Acquainted with Grief
Daniel Boerman on the Christian’s Final Word About Suffering
Suffering is universal. Some of us suffer from frequent illness or chronic pain. Others deal with the trauma of job failure, divorce, or mental illness. As we grow older, there come the inevitable sorrows of losing parents and spouses. My mother died of a heart attack at the age of 58 and my sister of cancer at 59. As I write this article, I am experiencing chronic pain that has been present for over two years. No one can escape the reality of suffering.
Since suffering is so common to our human experience, it is no surprise that great thinkers from different philosophical and religious perspectives have often talked about it and how best to explain and respond to it. Although our Christian understanding of suffering is unique, it does share some common themes with the thinking of other traditions. A comparison of other ideas with Christian thinking about suffering may help us better understand how to cope with the suffering we live with day-to-day. To this end, we’ll briefly consider a Stoic, and then a Buddhist writer.
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Daniel Boerman is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary whose articles and reviews have appeared in numerous Christian periodicals. He is currently working at home as a freelance writer. A lifelong member of the Christian Reformed Church, he and his wife have two adult children and two grandsons.
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