Christian Blogs on Suffering

Many Christian blogs on suffering can be boiled down to a single phrase: “Jesus juke.” Oh, you’ve got a problem? Jesus. Worship him. Praise him. Trust him.

Yet, in making this move, we empty the relevance of Jesus on the floor. We say, “This is the best Christianity has to offer. Nothing, essentially.”

What is so tragic on both sides of the equation is that (1) There is so much more wisdom to be had in the Christian tradition than “trust him,” and (2) Jesus himself would not Jesus juke us. I found this stated so eloquently today in a short essay by David Biebel,[1] who answers the question, “What would Jesus do for sufferers?” in this way:

–He would validate the pain, for he was a man of sorrows. He would not say, ‘You shouldn’t feel this way.’ He would say, ‘I’m sorry.’

–He would weep with those who weep.

–He would comfort those who mourn by being with them, for he is ‘Immanuel’, God with us.

–He would carry the pain: a sorrow shared is a sorrow diminished. He would say: ‘This is our pain, our challenge. I am with you, you don’t need to be afraid.’

–He would bind up the hurt, fill the void with himself, and nurture the hurting child in us toward maturity, showing us how to use the pain for good, as he did.

–He would not scold, judge, give a lot of advice, or offer pious platitudes or pat answers to questions nobody is asking.

–In my case, because he is the good shepherd, he went out into the wilderness and found this lost lamb, picked me up, and carried me home. (p. 4)

His guidance is profound. Christian writers – especially those addressing suffering – it is to these attitudes and activities that we are called to aspire (Phil. 2:3-5). I fail to do this in every post, blog, tweet, and piece I write. I totally fail. It has to be the Spirit who works in the hearts of readers to be encouraged (Eph. 3:16). But we have direction for how to be the hands and feet of Jesus today, even – no, especially – in our writing.

[1] David B. Biebel, “The Riddle of Suffering,” Genetic Ethics: Do the Ends Justify the Genes?, ed. John F. Kilner, Rebecca D. Pentz, and Frank E. Young (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 3-6.

2 Comments

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  1. Good thoughts. I think this is exactly right. I see it also in engaging culture–“Like the new iPhone? Jesus is better than an iPhone” “Anxious to see that new movie? It won’t satisfy like Jesus.” Which is all true in a flat, unqualified way of course, but I’m not sure it’s helpful when that’s the first, only, or default thing we say regarding cultural moments and artifacts. It also suffers from a category mistake of some sort, given that in some sense there will be many things beside Jesus in the eschaton, and Scripture never presents those two truths as competing.

    • Amen! I love these thoughts, Jared. We are Klinean sojourners, navigating between 2K and postmill. Christ and culture is so much more rich as an enterprise when holding those extremes at bay.

      Thanks for commenting. I hope we get to hang again soon.

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