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The Suffering of the Innocent

On Sunday, July 12, 2009, our friends suffered an unimaginable tragedy. The bus of young teenagers headed to summer camp blew a tire and rolled several times, trapping some children underneath. One teen died in the accident, and our friend’s daughter was the most seriously injured among the many traumatized and suffering that day. I want to ask you all to pray for Maggie Lee Henson, who is fighting for her life in a Jackson, Mississippi, hospital.

Her dad, John, wrote on a blog one week to the date of the accident about themorning he got up with Maggie Lee to make the 4:45 a.m. roll call that fatefulSunday morning. John, a staff member of the church, was asked to pray for theyouth before they left the parking lot for their adventure of fun and sport.Later John pondered the words he prayed that morning. In his suffering he hadquestions like: "Did I use the right words? What did I pray? I know I prayedfor safe travels; should I have prayed for the tires of the bus?" Then hewrote: there aren’t answers for those questions. There is only faith. Thatis the answer. Faith is not answers; in a way it is better than answers. Answersoften lead to more questions. Faith gives way to peace in the mystery of so manyunanswered questions. Faith is believing that there are answers that we cannotpossibly understand. This family is suffering the greatest tragedy of their lives,and their faith gives them hope where answers might bring despair.

There is a great mystery in the suffering of the innocent. Jesus raised thatissue in Luke 13:1-4:

“Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Jesus addressed two such incidents of the suffering of the innocent—the Galileans whom Pilate defiled and the eighteen who died in Siloam. Every day tragic events happen. When people are on their way to church or trying to be a Good Samaritan at an accident, we question them more. Questions about the suffering of the innocent will not reveal what is secretly marred with their lives; rather their innocent suffering brings attention to the need that we will all perish and the only way to have eternal life is by faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus asks us to realize that we are all guilty of sin against a Holy God and that we are all destined for the ugliness of death. Jesus tells us the answer to the question: "Did I do something specifically wrong that brought about the suffering I’m facing?" Jesus, Himself, was emphatic that the ones who suffered were not any guiltier than the next guy. He was just as emphatic in explaining the important matter is that you have a right relationship with God.

The suffering of the innocent is a mystery indeed and so is the redemption of the wicked. I want to believe it in faith where questions and answers fail.



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