THE PARADOX OF EVIL AND SUFFERING: "A LIFE IN CHRIST THROUGH SUFFERING AND ENDURANCE
OMORO, SAMWEL ODERO
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...My heart is sorrowful even to death... The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" (Mt 26:38,41). Like Jesus, every human person finds himself or herself sometimes in such a concrete situation when confronted with the pangs of suffering. Though the intellect would want to make out its meaning and purpose in order to overcome i, the body the medium through which this suffering is encountered and expressed is always weak. vil events such as earthquakes and floods have always have left many people confounded in silence with fear, loneliness and anxiety. Though they are an iceberg of many silent sufferings and deaths, they have always provoked within man a sensation of pain that man is short of completeness in life. Such consciousness evolves into uneasiness and concern, worry or dread, lack of fulfilment, but above all heightened feelings of inner emptiness, isolation and intense longing to overcome suffering. Suffering may be transient, or long lasting. It is common to all, the young and the old, the poor and the rich alike. From the standpoint of human history, suffering is a legacy that is as old as humanity. When we switch on our radios and TVs and read newspapers, the most dominant news is about suffering in the world. Summits, conferences, councils, seminars are always held to forge ways on how to diminish, alleviate or to prevent suffering. Though suffering and pain seem to be an integral and unavoidable part of human existence on earth, man upon failing to establish a rapport between suffering and life, ends in posing basic questions: Why suffering? Is there meaning in suffering? Can suffering be totally abolished from the earth? Does God create evil and suffering? Why suffering in a good world? These questions summarise my motives and aims in writing this essay: there is a necessity to develop and cherish a firm positive attitude towards evil and suffering in the world. The notion that God is a good God and he is the creator of the good universe magnifies the horror and dread of suffering. This is because man cannot comprehend a good God creating or allowing evil in a good universe! The question about the origin of evil and suffering is not an afterthought in man's intellect. Thus, comes the problem of evil in the world. The ravaging effect of suffering, of which the human in cannot exactly situate the origin, plunges man into a flight from the reality of life. Many a times man in his wisdom attempts to rationalise the problem of evil and suffering so as to attain comfort, but all in vain. On the contrary, man's flawed attempts to evade evil and suffering have always propagated loneliness and anxiety in life. In any case, human philosophy should aid us in making out how evil and suffering profoundly fit into the divine plan for humanity and into the probationary nature of life; philosophy should help to develop a healthy attitude that will influence right actions towards evil and suffering, thereby removing the misjudgement about evil and suffering. Again it should help us to see that suffering is not irrational, purposeless and meaningless and that it is not the end of life. This is the basic stream of thought in Chapter One. Man with his intellect in confronting the problem of evil and suffering, engages in an earnest, modest and endeavouring &Tutuila to offer a solution appertaining to this problem. The pure human rationality that has led to a tussle to comprehend the meaning and purpose of suffering in the world is full of conjectural arguments. Baffled by the fact that evil and suffering are indiscriminately affecting all persons, even other animals, the human mind has unfortunately occasionally wandered away from the truth that there is a good God in control of the universe. The supernatural revelation purports to found the fact that even though evil and suffering are inherent in the world, the good God has triumph over them and that they are only a fleeting reality. Chapter Two is a move to locate the origin of evil and suffering and its relation to God's presence. Ilowever, we will only deal with the New Testament in this chapter in order to see how Jesus, who is the paradigm of Christians in front of suffering, understands and lives the problem of suffering and evil. "...affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint..." (Rom 5:3-5). In these verses Paul reiterates our vocation to authentic living amid suffering. Theology as a rational method of establishing the truth of revelation, bears the responsibility of giving a rigorous and exact exposition of the doctrines of faith pertaining to evil and suffering. As such, theological reflection should offer Christians a spirituality that is completely useful in nourishing and strengthening faith. This is the core message of Chapter !Three: how to face suffering squarely with the purpose and meaning as a way to God. Christ on insisting on the carrying of the cross as a way of discipleship to him, offers an overhaul in the meaning of the cross: a new meaning that embraces suffering as a necessary component on the way to new life, In Chapter Three we also establish this new meaning of the cross.