Weekly Reflection – Suffering and Faith

15 February 2023

Canon Philip

As I write, 35,000 people are thought to have perished in the horrific earthquake in Turkey and Syria; it will be more by the time you read this.  We instinctively feel shocked by such devastation, and those who have died are in the prayers of the cathedral community, as are those trying to bring them relief.

But the fact and reality of suffering, in our lives and our world, can make it hard to believe there is a good and loving God who made the world and loves all of us, his children.  These are tough questions which can’t be really grappled with in a couple of paragraphs, and any of your clergy would be glad to talk more with anyone who wanted to.  But perhaps we can remember two thoughts as we face suffering, whether personal or global.

The first and most important thing, for Christians, is that God is not distant from human suffering, sitting up on a cloud away from it all.  Christians believe in a roll-up-your-sleeves kind of God, who comes to live a human life in Jesus of Nazareth.  Jesus, of course, suffered hugely – spiritual doubt and anguish; rejection and betrayal; humiliation and death.  God in Jesus knows what it is to suffer, and so we don’t suffer alone.

The second thing is that there is always some small thing we can do to show bring compassion and kindness even in dark and devastating situations.  It might be donating to a charity (you can donate to help the relief efforts for the earthquake via the button below).  It might be a kind word or an unprompted phone call to a friend in need.  Most simply of all it might just be lighting a candle or holding the name of the person or place before God in a moment of quiet prayer.  Small acts, maybe; but far more significant than we might think, as we respond to the awful reality of human suffering with our questions and our struggles, our compassion and our prayers.

With prayers and best wishes,
Canon Philip

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