Why Suffering? LDS Curious Post 7

Intro - LDS Curious

Now let's tackle a much more difficult issue: Suffering.

Perhaps we have forgotton the central theme of mortality: Freedom of choice. God will not in any way, shape, or form coerce us one way or the other. He leaves our choices up to us and will not interrupt that process, in the extreme. This answers the question, "Why would God allow suffering." He cannot stop it and also allow His children the choice to do evil.

We find it harsh for God to allow parents to lock up a child in a closet for years and be subjucted to all manner of horrors. Or we may deem it unconscionable that a just God would permit the wholesale slaughter of (please fill in the 19th through 21st century slaughter of your choice).

There are lots of those from which to choose from the eradication of the people found on the North American Continent by Anglo settlers, to the bullying of various Middle Eastern countries in the way of American imperialist interests. Certainly a case could be made for a major protest to God's allowance of the needless events on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. (Revisionist history taught in government schools notwithstanding.)

Our world is filled with savage war-loving people—ourselves included. Our history jumps from war to war to war. Oh, we justify them most assuredly. But savage nonetheless they are. Anyone who has ever experienced the results of war understands that there is no winner. No country ever "wins" a war.

So why would God permit such wholesale loss of the very lives that are supposed to be here to learn while progressing and experiencing mortality?

Remember The Prime Directive

The contemplation of that question begins to open the door to understanding just how incredibly and centrally important is the principle of freedom of choice. It is so important that millions of lives must be allowed to be sacrificed rather than interfere with it. It is the "Prime Directive" of mortality.

If your perspective is atheistic then you have no opinion in the matter. If life is an accident and has no meaning beyond itself then the loss of life equally has no meaning. "Oh," you say, "What about the suffering?" Well, what about it? Again, if life has no other meaning than its emperical self, then if you suffer, just end it. Or have someone end it for you. Either way if life is meaningless then so is suffering and no one ought to hang around to experience it.

Well, but if life has meaning beyond the grave then what of suffering? What then? What is gained by the excruciating experiences of cancer or torture or spending your youth locked up in a closet intermingled with unspeakable molestation? How could a just God allow such things to go on either by illness or at the hand of others?

I'm going to sound a bit clinical here and I don't mean to. These are questions which touch tender feelings for many and can be the central question that holds back faith in God. But I want to answer the questions in detail and without sentiment to get to the heart of the matter quickly.

A Personal Story

The answers can only be understood with the proper perspective. Let me begin with a personal story: When I was about nine I broke my leg in a bicycle accident. The leg was broken in two places just above my right ankle and the ankle was also dislocated.

It caused the most intense pain I have ever experienced in my life. My hospital stay lasted nearly a week while they set the bones and had me in traction to avoid the leg healing shorter than the other one. The cast completely encased my foot leaving only the toes exposed and extended to my crotch.

I was confined to bed for 6 weeks once they let me go home. The prescribed medication only partially mitigated the pain for another week. As I began to heal I felt pretty good and then we had to go to a doctor's appointment. As I had been using a bedpan for all elimination, preparing to go to the doctor's was the first time in weeks that my leg had been below my heart.

As my Dad helped me lower my leg to the floor the rush of blood pressure caused pain that was equal to the original accident. I truly thought I was going to die or that my leg would explode. Of course it did not and my father comforted me as best he could while the pain subsided over the course of an hour or more.

Needless to say I healed fully. The doctors did their work flawlessly and my legs are exactly the same length as I write this in my 62nd year. So I think I'll be okay.

What Did I Learn?

As a boy I asked continually, "Why would God allow me to go through so much pain?"

As a grown-up I can say that the experience taught me more than I can express here and that the things I learned were far more valuable than had I been spared the experience. Countless times in my life I have remembered that experience and have used it to comfort others or to understand their pain or to understand that the pain of a later experience would also pass and teach valuable lessons.

Was God kind in allowing me to have that experience very early in life when I would heal quickly? I don't think "kind" is the proper expression. Was He happy to have me experience pain? Of course not. But did His perspective in knowing before hand the value of what I would learn mitigate the discomfort He surely felt as He allowed me to experience the attendant pain?

Could He have stopped it? Would I have wanted Him to? Yes to the former, and from my current perspective, no to the latter. Although at the age of nine, given the choice, I surely would have passed on the experience.

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