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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Unprepared for suffering

We don't know how to handle this challenge to faith

During the years that I worked as a counselor on a suicide hot line, I talked with many depressed people. I found an all-too-common theme — suffering.

Download a study guide for thisarticle Many callers couldn’t understand what they did to deserve their suffering. Some saw it as punishment for past behaviors, some as a sign that they were forsaken by God and others as such an unjust punishment that it was proof a loving God didn’t exist.

I remember how frustrated and helpless I felt when attempting to comfort these callers with what I thought was sound theology, addressing the problem of evil and the existence of God.


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