Four Fifths of Suffering

Do not fret because of those who are evil
    or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
    like green plants they will soon die away.
Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.
Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
    do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
    but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
    though you look for them, they will not be found.
But the meek will inherit the land
    and enjoy peace and prosperity.
The wicked plot against the righteous
    and gnash their teeth at them;
but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
    for he knows their day is coming.

  • Psalm 37:1-13

But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.  This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.  There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished — he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

  • Romans 3:21-26

“The possibility of pain is inherent in the very existence of a world where souls can meet. When souls become wicked they will certainly use this possibility to hurt one another; and this, perhaps, accounts for four-fifths of the sufferings of men.”

  • C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

I could have quoted the entirety of Psalm 37, but who are the wicked in our lives?

Disclaimer: As for the title, liquor does not come in “fifths” any more, a fifth of a gallon. It comes in metric units, but I have not bought a bottle in a very long time. For those thinking that I am referring to drinking four fifths of liquor – if that is even possible without dying of alcohol toxicity – you would indeed suffer, but I did not mean that at all.

C. S. Lewis might be a bit off when he says, “When souls become wicked,” but we know what he means.  What makes a good little boy (or girl) into a bad little boy (or girl)?  Yet, we have all sinned.  We deserve the punishment for sin.  In a way, unless we come to Christ, we are all wicked.

And I think of our troubled times.  When one person, regardless of color, is killed, we should notice.  As David Robertson, the Wee Flea, has mentioned many times recently, the BLM movement has never noticed the deaths of countless black people in Africa who are Christians, killed by radical Islamists.  No, that does not fit the BLM message.  No.  In recent days, the BLM leader has called for the destruction of statues of Jesus Christ and of churches, as they are symbols, in his mind, of white supremacy and oppression. The distinction may have been regarding western Caucasian statues, but when it is a marble statue, how can you tell? It is odd that people defend the protestors as being non-violent, yet they identify targets for the focus of the violence. This does not compute.

Is this BLM leader so wicked that he does not see a contradiction in love versus hate, or has the church become so corrupt that those outside the church cannot see God’s love?  Many in the church are agreeing with the BLM leader, since having the statues, and defending the statues at all costs, might lead to worshipping the statues instead of Jesus Himself.  But has the church become so weak that we would rather “show the love of God and turn the other cheek” while we allow a group of anarchists to burn our churches to the ground?

When the whos, down in Whoville, joined hands and sang after the Grinch stole Christmas, the Grinch changed and returned the stolen stuff.  But in a life other than fiction, the angry people who tear down will keep tearing down until they are stopped, until people take a stand.

But, I also remember the same line elsewhere…

Okay, that lightened the mood a bit, but we continually draw lines and people cross them.  In the second video example, the Big Bang guys are the first not to get into the movie, and Sheldon steals the film and the show ends with them making a run for it.  Funny, yes, but it shows how one act of privilege leads to sin.  We are all wicked, without the cleansing blood of Jesus.  God will reward the meek, but part of the present rhetoric is to destroy Christianity because Christianity is perceived as a hate crime.

Where did we go wrong?  How did we get from “For God so loved the world…” to Christianity – seen as a symbol of hate?  Yes, people distort the message all the time, but central to the message should be Jesus and Jesus taught us to love.  So, why are we not doing as Jesus commanded?

But the hate in the world does not end with the recent riots or the extreme left and extreme right hate groups.  It is within each family.  Jesus said that He came to earth to place father against son …  And that sadly happens all the time, regardless of specific family members.  Some want to hold the family together at all costs, but the family is already divided, and this time, duct tape will not be able to fix it.

But God can fix it, if we repent.

Was C. S. Lewis right that four fifths of all suffering comes from someone wicked doing wicked things?  In the 80 years since the quoted book was published (in 1940), could it be possible that wickedness causes a higher percentage of pain?  We still have disease, a few more viruses and such than in Lewis’ day.  Maybe the percentage has not shifted, but there are so many more people.  We are packed closer together, and a lot of those people are getting the rat syndrome – willing to eat those around them, just for more space.

Back to the Picard quote, but maybe in a different light than both the videos above.  Let us draw the line of repentance – “go no further.”  We have ignored God too long.  Let us all return to a time when human life, any life with any color, mattered, and beyond mattering, any life, even the unborn life, was worth saving.  And maybe instead of intellectually acknowledging that someone MATTERS, might we go beyond that and LOVE them?

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

5 Comments

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  1. don’t me started in this black lives matters crap—every single life matters—
    let’s look at Chicago—does this “leader” care about all of the Black lives killed by fellow black lives in Chicago??
    What of Rwanda or the Congo?
    Oh this crap makes me furious—this BLM mess is nothing but the latest ploy of the violent vying for some sense of power over those they hate.

    Liked by 1 person

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