Posts tagged ‘suffering’

April 17th, 2013

Caught in the Breakers

by Max Andrews

You have put me in the lowest pit, in the dark places, in the depths. Your wrath has rested upon me, and you have afflicted me with all your waves. Speak up, my ears are growing weary. I’ll sing this song to the end and watch the waves crash over me.

I am shut up and cannot go out. But I, O Lord, have cried out to you for help. And in the morning my prayer comes before you. O Lord, why do you reject my soul? Why do you hide your face from me? I was afflicted and about to die from my youth on; I suffer your terrors; I am overcome.  There’s not much to overcome with enough time to turn it all around.

April 17th, 2013

When You Pray For Things That Seem to be Wrong

by Max Andrews

Now, I know this isn’t a term heard often but the imprecatory psalms are the psalms that make requests or desires known to God that are… well… evil.  Here’s a few.

Let death come deceitfully upon them; let them go down alive to Sheol, for evil is in their dwelling, in their midst.  Ps. 55.15

O God, shatter their teeth in their mouth… Ps. 58.6

May they be blotted out of the book of life and may they not be recorded with the righteous. Ps. 69.28

Let his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. Ps. 109.9

How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones against the rock. Ps. 137.9

I would encourage you to go to these passages and read them yourself.  Understand the contexts in which these words and thoughts were expressed.  Let’s not be too quick to say, “There’s no wrong in this!”,  ”This is the Word of God, these Psalms cannot be evil!”  I’m not saying the psalms are evil, I’m saying that aspects of what are being expressed are evil.  The psalmist, David for the most part, is desiring justice and vengeance.  He wants them to have death be surprised upon them, for them to be buried alive, for their teeth to be knocked out, for them not to receive salvation, and for their children to die in the manner in which his people’s children have been murdered.  I’m just guessing but if I had not set up these imprecatory psalms in a biblical context already you would think that they were pretty evil–no?

April 17th, 2013

Healing and Heroes: Seven Years After the Death of My Sister-in-Law and Niece

by Max Andrews

April 16 is a significant day for many. Most people think of the recent Virginia Tech massacre. April 16 is different for me and many in my family. On Easter Sunday of 2006 my family got the news that Jessica, my brother’s wife at the time, had unexpectedly died. She was seven months pregnant with my niece, Alyssa. My brother was in Iraq at the time. They flew him back to the States within a day. We never found out how they died, which is hard for closure.

There are several events I’ve experienced that changed my life forever: 1) my wedding, 2) being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, 3) suffering through Crohn’s and a major surgery, and this, 4) the death of Jessica and Alyssa. I was still 18 at the time. Their funeral was, and I still consider it to be, the worst day of my life. That was the first day I experienced pain and suffering on the existential level. Then, my pain wasn’t my own. My pain was for everyone else. My pain was seeing the pain and suffering of my family and that I couldn’t do anything. They were only married for five months. Why hold on to this? It’s family. The experience of pain and suffering isn’t in the immediate present of the event… pain and suffering follows for years afterwards. We all grieve, give respects, honor, and remember those whom we loved and have lost in different ways through different times. Forcing this process to be something other than what it is doesn’t help–it hurts.

April 16th, 2013

“Hey Unloving, I Will Love You…”

by Max Andrews

Just because you’ve read the Bible do you think that you know God?  You could probably predict what Hebrew word was used for a specific word based on the context… but you’ve never felt the passion behind David’s imprecatory prayers and the prayers of suffering.  You can parse every Greek word Paul uses in the book of Romans… but you’ve never felt the riddance and self-betrayal like he felt in chapter seven.

You can tell me how to encourage someone or what to do when counseling a depressed friend… but you can’t put yourself in his mind and ask yourself what it’s like to be him. You equate by analogy.  You can tell me how much you love your neighbor… but you condition it.  You can tell me how much God loves you… but you can’t understand the death of God and his spiritual and physical anguish as he passed from death to new life with you in mind.

You can quote Scripture, Ephesians 6 and the psalms, describing spiritual warfare and what to do… but you’ve never resisted sin to the point of blood.  You can quote theological works that systematically define God and who he is… but you’ve never experienced what it’s like to align planets and create stars, to watch you spit on his creation and cross, the gifts he gave for you for the very reason of your anticipated existence.

December 15th, 2012

How Can the Slaughter of Children be Considered ‘Good Providence’ if God is in Control?

by Max Andrews

If everything God does is GOOD, and if God controls EVERYTHING, then it would be BAD had one less child been murdered in Newtown, CT.

This is the argument we find particularly among open theists but I would consider it an important existential question. It primarily focuses on the problem of evil and the hiddenness of God. Here’s the argument in a formal depiction:

  1. If everything God does is Good [and]
  2. If God controls everything [by weak and strong actualization]
  3. Then, it would be bad had one less child been murdered in Newtown.
  4. It would have been good had one less child been murdered in Newtown.
  5. Therefore, either not everything God does is good or God does not control everything.
  6. God is good and everything he does is good.
  7. Therefore, God does not control everything.

It seems like we are posed with interesting dilemma (at least for the Christian who affirms that God’s means of providence is not exclusively causal, but that he controls all things).

November 30th, 2012

Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week

by Max Andrews

I would like to ask all of you to wear purple at least once this week for Crohn’s and Colitis awareness week. As some of you know, I’ve been in a tough battle with the disease for a while now and I’ve been in chronic pain since last summer. For more on my story please see my links:

Originally blogged at My Journey With Crohns.

As a result of a federal bill introduced by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and Congressman Andrew Crenshaw (R-FL-4) (passed in 2011 [LINK: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/sres199/text], Congress declared December 1-7 to be Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week to educate Americans about the diseases and encourage people to join in the effort to find a cure for IBD. This resolution was passed in thanks to some great Senators and Representatives who cosponsored it including:
·      Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS)
·      Senator Jack Reed (D-RI)
·      Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
·      Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)
·      Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY)
read more »

September 11th, 2012

William Rowe and the Problem of Evil

by Max Andrews

Rowe makes a strong positive case for why atheism is true.  He supposes that, as especially in the absence of other arguments, anyone who observes the amount of human and animal suffering in the world and the truth of premise 1 in the evidential argument (that there are probably pointless evils) then this person would be rationally justified in believing atheism to be true. He presents two basic forms of the argument:  the logical and the evidential problems of evil.  The logical problem of evil argues that the existence of God and the existence of evil are logically contradictory claims.  However, these aren’t explicitly contradictory—they are implicit (i.e. a married bachelor is an implicit contradiction and a married non-married person is an explicit contradiction).  Rowe recognizes that we must abandon the logical problem of evil because the contradiction has yet to be proved (though he states that just because it has yet to be demonstrated doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t one).

The evidential problem is a probabilistic argument, which argues that given the apparent [pointless] evil it is more probable that God does not exist than if God does exist.  He uses the example of a fawn suffering for no apparent reason.  Given that God would prevent this from happening and the fact that it does happen then God doesn’t seem to exist.  Rowe seems to favor this form of the problem of evil over the logical problem.

July 20th, 2012

The Crohn’s Chronicles: One Long Year Later…

by Max Andrews

Today, July 20, 2012, marks the first anniversary of my Crohn’s surgery.  I have had Crohn’s for eight years and it has won the battle over a few organs. I was in serious pain for just over a month prior to the surgery. I spent my birthday last year, July 18, in pain. The next day I was going to go out with some friends to TGI Friday’s for a Jack Daniel’s steak to celebrate my birthday.  I wasn’t feeling well that afternoon and took a nap.  I woke up with a 105 degree fever. Leah rushed me to the hospital. I was not a good patient. I was angry. I refused to take the CT scan at first because I knew what they would find.  I gave in. I didn’t know what they would find. I was wrong. They found that my colon was perforated and I needed emergency surgery. They let my body rest for the night in the ICU. It was a rough night…

(Please click here to help me and others.)

I remember the nurses pushing my bed into the room where they prepped me for surgery. I was, of course, having fun with all the drugs I was on, but I knew what was going on. My Dad and step-mother drove out from Richmond for my surgery. I’m so glad they did. I saw them before going in thinking, “What if this is the last time I see them?” The staff let Leah back in one more time before I went unconscious. She had to hold on my wedding ring while I was in surgery. I remember asking my surgeon how many times he’s done this surgery and he said that my condition was “pretty bad” but that he has done thousands and this sort of thing was his “bread and butter.” I trusted him. These surgeries happen all the time, so why was I so nervous deep down?

Before Leah came back into the prep area to get my ring, I prayed. Even though I was high as a kite on the dilaudid and Valium it was the most serious prayer I ever made. I prayed for the surgeon and that I’d make it out okay. I felt like I couldn’t even pray for no complications. Even if complications happened I didn’t care, I just wanted to come out on the other side. This was the first time I seriously entertained the thought that I might actually die and these are my last few moments awake. Without the surgery I could have easily died in a short period of time, but I didn’t think that was going to happen.  I’ll come back to this in a bit.

December 29th, 2011

Dear Cancer…

by Max Andrews

Dear Cancer,

You’re world famous now. I hope you’re happy. You’ve done everything you could’ve ever dreamed of doing. Your name is known in almost every home in the world. You’re probably more known than Jesus Christ himself. I just wanted to let you know I’m getting a bit fed up with you. You’ve managed to elude our medicine and our use of science. You’ve taken so many of my family. You’ve taken friends. I’ve seen so many friends and family suffer the pains of your presence. I’ve seen so many more suffer your pains by watching others experience it. We all cheer for joy when we find out you’ve left but you never seem to leave us alone for good. I’m sure you treasure your secrets as to what form you’ll take or when you’ll come back. However, what I treasure is that you can’t answer why you come. You’re but a means to a greater purpose. Have you ever noticed that some of your victims find complete rest apart from you and in the Lord? Who knows?–Someday you may catch me. I hope not; but if you do, just know that you got second best. You can steal this life but you can never take the next. As you see, Cancer, you’re going to lose one way or another.

Sincerely,

Me

December 20th, 2011

Dear, Lewie… A Letter to My Younger Self

by Max Andrews

Dear Lewie,

I wanted to write to you with my best intentions of preparing you for the life to come.  I have so much to tell you and so much to prepare you for.  Don’t worry; I’m not ruining any surprises.  It’s like when you read the ingredients of your favorite dinner on the menu of your favorite restaurant.  You know what’s coming but knowing just that never seems to ruin the experience, does it?  You still experience the joy of the meal.  It’s a bit like that my friend.  This letter will only foretell you of things to come.  My purpose in writing you is to make sure you understand what it means to experience life.

I’ll cut straight to the core issue–your life is going to be good and I have nothing but good news for you.  Despite what you’re about to read it’s all beautiful.  Your life is going to change.  Okay, before I continue I know what you’re wondering and yes, you will get married.  You’re going to meet this beautiful girl in college.  She’s going to distract you from everything.  You’ll have a romantic tunnel vision.  Everything else is going to blur and you’re going to focus in on her.  Her smile is going to capture you.  Her eyes are going to melt you.  You’ll learn to love.  This is the love that can never be adequately expressed in words.  Actions and experience is the only sufficient way of knowing this love… a love that helps you understand God.

This brings me to my next point.  Sooner or later you’re going to become a Christian.  The thing is, this doesn’t make your life any easier.  You’ll go to a university and study philosophy and you’ll learn to love science.  Pay attention in school.  Please, if this finds you please study physics more before university.  It will make things easier for me here!  You’ll eventually aim to make a career in academia.