Okay, take three. Evil and suffering.
When I was a baby, I was diagnosed with a medical condition called hydrocephalus. I’m going to make this a Reader’s Digest Version to the best of my ability. The receptors in my brain didn’t work, so cerebrospinal fluid just built up. What happens if you have hydrocephalus is your brain acts like a sponge, and soaks up that fluid if it doesn’t circulate out properly. I had a shunt put in, which is basically a tube that goes from the top of my head, to the back of my head, down my neck, all the way to my abdomen.
The first shunt never worked. The second shunt worked for a long time, until I was 9. When I started having vision problems in both eyes, I went to the eye doctor, where I was diagnosed with papilledema. Basically, cerebrospinal fluid started choking out my optic nerves and it was messing up my vision. After some appointments at Duke, we were able to credit the excess cerebrospinal fluid to a shunt malfunction. Two more brain surgeries. I was 9.
I remember when I was younger than that, riding in the car and asking my dad why evil exists if God is good and loves us. “Why would he let Adam and Eve sin in the garden?” I wondered.
When all of this stuff started happening again in my life, I started struggling with that question again. It wasn’t an emotional struggle. The fire to my logical doubt was fueled. I really want you to understand that in a time of suffering for me, I didn’t want an emotional doubt answered.
I’ve heard questions about evil and suffering asked a lot during street evangelism, and during these times, it’s absolutely necessary, maybe more than in other situations, to address the person and not the question. Figure out what they need to hear. And if you’re struggling with evil and suffering, know what you need to hear.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying the emotional are illogical necessarily. Can they be? Sure. Are they always? No. What I’m saying is that the answer to emotions is true and sufficient and logical argument is true and sufficient; but if a person is looking for comfort in the form of emotional support, they might want one answer, and if a person is looking for comfort in the form of understanding how their situation is happening, they might need another answer.
Before I explain the answer to the question I was asking myself when I was doubting (that’ll be my next blog), I want to explain what I mean about answering the person a little more.
C.S. Lewis wrote two books. Well, he wrote a lot more than two, but he wrote two that deal with evil and suffering. The first book he wrote was called The Problem of Pain. This book attempted to answer why evil and suffering exists in a logical, intellectual way. After his wife died, C.S. Lewis wrote another book on evil and suffering called A Grief Observed.
He wrote, “One is that the Eternal Vet is even more inexorable and the possible operations even more painful than our severest imaginings can forebode. But the other, that ‘all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.’” Lewis understood his faith and what Scripture said about suffering from a logical stance, but during a time when he was grieving, he went back and forth between suffering and understanding. He needed both perspectives. People need to hear different things, so we have to get that to talk about a topic like evil and suffering.
I’m turning this into more blogs than I initially intended, whoops. I felt the need to explain both sides though. The next blog actually will cover the logical side of evil and suffering this time; I just thought this would be important to go first.