For A Friend Suffering

My roommate introduced me to a friend of his and while we haven’t interacted much, I have liked what I’ve seen so far. I’ve been informed that he’s gone through some hard times lately. I don’t know the details, but it seems to involve the death of a friend at a young age. My guess is a battle from cancer, but again, I’m not certain.

I write for him tonight.

This friend is very angry from what I gather and to that, I say “good.” Dear Christian. It’s okay to be angry. In fact, it’s commanded of us. Ephesians 4:26 tells us to be angry and sin not. We see in the life of Christ that he got angry a number of times. The stoics pride themselves on concealing their emotions, and I do like a lot of stoic thought on how to react to the world, but Christ was not of that manner. He openly wept and openly had anger.

While we can rejoice that those who die in Christ are now in a better place, we should not be saying “Celebrate! They’re dead!” We’ve lost something. It’s okay to grieve and/or get angry. We all deal with it in different ways and the Christian who tells you that you should simply rejoice and not cry or be angry about it is one that deserves to be smacked.

1 Thess. 4:13 tells us that we grieve. The difference is we don’t grieve like those who have no hope. We do realize that we are separated for now, but we will see each other again someday. What we are saying is temporary. That doesn’t mean it’s less painful, but we should not treat a temporary reality like it’s an eternal one.

Part of it also I believe in this case is that the friend was young. He will never get married. He will never have children. He will never have a family. We should all grieve for something like that. It seems many people get cut off in the prime of life and there’s no rhyme or reason to it. It’s natural for us to go to God and ask “Why?”

I also think God welcomes these questions. The Psalms are full of them. The prophet Habakkuk is noted that he spoke to God on behalf of the people. Jeremiah had his share of complaints to God concerning the ministry that he was doing. Of course, we can’t forget the book of Job where Job wishes for an audience with God.

Of course, I think we should also watch how we approach God. God doesn’t mind us approaching him with honest doubts and questions provided we’re not doing so with the mindset that we are the ones calling the shots an that we know better than him. In fact, it is part of his grace that he welcomes those questions as it shows we trust in him.

Why does such suffering happen? Frankly, we don’t know. We know the general that things are working for a greater good, but we don’t know the particular. That’s why it can be hard to trust at times. That’s all we’re told to do though is trust. We’re not told to avoid grieving or to not get angry. We are simply told to trust.

We’re never told it’ll be easy either, but most things worthwhile aren’t. God hasn’t given us an answer for the particulars again, but he has given us himself. He has given us his Holy Spirit and the reminder of the cross that he is the God who comes and suffers with us. God is not aloof to human suffering. The Son came and suffered on our behalf. We serve the God who dealt with the problem of evil in a more personal way than any other religion.

I have sympathy for this friend also and an open ear and this is the best we can often give to those suffering. Our presence means more than our answers. While I am an apologist, I do not wish to be one here. I wish to be the counselor and friend more than anything else. There will come a time for the apologetics later, but it is not now.

Friend. I pray for you. I hope all goes well.

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