For Reflection/Discussion: Why is suffering a universal problem? What are some of the different kinds of suffering? Which kinds of suffering, in your judgment, are the worst? What are some of the causes of suffering? What are some of the unhealthy ways people respond to suffering or the prospect of suffering?
Complete text of C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (originally published in 1940). OCR by van Wingerden. Footnotes and punctuation by Pogo. Ebook Samizdat February, 2016 (Public Domain under Canadian copyright law) .
Complete text of C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed. (Initially published in 1961 under the pseudonym, N. W. Clerk). Edition used as base for this ebook: London: Faber & Faber, 1964. Ebook Samizdat 2016 (Public Domain under Canadian copyright law)
For reflection/discussion: What are some of the ways different religious and philosophical traditions have understood and sought to explain the problem of suffering? What are your thoughts on the Buddhist belief that suffering is an illusion? On the Hindu belief that all suffering is deserved? On the atheist belief that suffering is a result and byproduct of random natural processes, and thus meaningless? How do you understand the Christian response to the problem of suffering and evil?
“Afflictions are light when compared with what we deserve. They are light when compared with the sufferings of the Lord Jesu Christ. But perhaps their real lightness is best seen by comparing them with the weight of glory which is awaiting us.” —Arthur W. Pink
“The Lord did not create suffering. Pain and death came into the world with the fall of man. But after we had chosen suffering in preference to the joys of union with God, the Lord turned suffering itself into a way by which we could come to the perfect knowledge of God.” —Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island.
For reflection/discussion: In what way(s), if any, does suffering serve a positive purpose for followers of Jesus Christ? Has your own experience of suffering taught you any valuable lessons or helped you to grow?
For reflection/discussion: Who do you know who is suffering physically, emotionally, or spiritually? What can you do to help them in their suffering? What, if anything, holds you back from being present with people who are suffering?