“O God, Where Art Thou?”
Why? Why me? Why my loved one? Why any of us? Where is God? There are no more poignant questions in life. This may prove to be the most important episode we even produce, as it explores our deepest question–why life is so hard. So unfair. So painful. This lesson and discussion will explore:
- Confronting the scope of suffering
- Suffering in the scriptures
- What does the nature of suffering teach us about God? (theodicy)
- Coping with our own suffering
- Others’ suffering: Comforting and Mourning with those in need
The discussion is long, but well worth listening to. Natasha, Nathan, Jacob and Berta provide expert and experienced engagement with these difficult topics.
One Time Donation:
Student Reading: D&C 121:1–33; 122; Our Heritage, pages 45–53; Alma 7:11–12; D&C 19:16–19; D&C 98:12, 14–15; 101:1–2, 4; 136:31; D&C 58:2–5; Isaiah 53:5–6; Hebrews 2:17–18; Alma 7:11–12; D&C 88:6
Teacher Reading: D&C 121; 123; 2 Nephi 9:21; Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 4:16; 1 Peter 5:6–11; D&C 127:2; 2 Nephi 2:11; Alma 32:5–6; 62:41; Helaman 12:1–3; D&C 24:8; D&C 31:9; D&C 54:10; Alma 17:11; D&C 98:1; D&C 98:11; D&C 101:36–38; D&C 98:13; Alma 62:49–51; Luke 9:24; Galatians 6:2; Alma 36:3; D&C 3:8; D&C 24:8; D&C 112:13; Jacob 3:1; Mosiah 24:13–14; Alma 36:27; D&C 103:12; D&C 127:4; D&C 98:3; D&C 90:24; D&C 100:15; 2 Nephi 2:2; Romans 8:28; D&C 19:23
You can access my Reading Notes here.
You can access my Lesson Notes here.
Please continue the conversation by posting your questions and comments here, in the facebook group, or email them to me at MormonSundaySchool at gmail.
- Elder Maxwell, Enduring Well
- Elder Eyring, In the Strength of the Lord
- A Maxwell Institute article on Joseph Smith on the Problem of Evil
- Mormon Matters on Suffering
- RadioWest series on Tragedy
- RadioLab on dealing with death
- RadioLab on why humans do terrible things
- RadioLab on why humans do good things
- Viktor E. Frankl: Man’s Search for Meaning
- On Being, Happiness and Suffering
- On Being, How we use God for our own agendas
- On Being post about moving beyond the humiliation of suffering
- TED talk on turning suffering into healing
- Psychology today article on Post-Traumatic Growth
- “The Trauma of Being Alive”, New York Times
Jacob Baker gets his own subcategory for his series of poignant and powerful BCC posts
- Deaths and (Re)Births
- Mormonism’s Weeping God
- They Lay Down beside Her and Wept
- Being Someone to Sit with
Many thanks to Devin Roth for the beautiful bumper music. Check out his arrangement of hymns and other work at DevinRothMusic!
Thanks to James Estrada of Oak Street Audio for his quality post-production.
Jessica F says:
One of the most difficult aspects of suffering is the suffering that is not caused by human malice or sin. The suffering that comes from drought or tsunamis or earthquakes or extreme temperatures. I think for me it is easy to rationalize the human aspect of it, but it is hard for me to see why God allows nature to cause such damage to innocent human life. I can see the the need for God to allow us to exercise agency, but where is the agency in being downed in a giant wave? Where is the agency is starving to death because there has not been enough rain to grow crops? Were is the agency in so many aspects of human suffering, what is the point?
Anciently the natural fluctuations in weather were seen as a sign of righteousness or of sin. But as technology improves we can predict weather further into the future. What once seemed to be random we know is often cyclical, and a chain of evens caused a considerable distance from the most devastating loss of life. How do I move past what I feel is purposeless suffering, caused by nature and still believe in an all powerful God? I can see how sin leads to suffering but so much suffering now and historically has not been a result of human control or sin.
Thank you for sharing that quote by Dostoevsky. “What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering.” I’ve often thought about human torture, cruel acts against children and mass genocide- how does that fit in w/the atonement? How does God make balance for that? (also, saw this trailer this morning http://theactofkilling.com/trailer/) Great discussion, thanks.
I’m a little behind, so I’m just now finishing listening to this lesson. It may be my favourite lesson yet. There is so much goodness and so very much comfort and motivation in this lesson, especially in the discussion. Thank you.
Jason Hale says:
One of the biggest problem with wealth inequality within the Church, is that the Church will spend thousands of dollars for fun things, like hiking trips and camping, for members in first world nations, mainly the U.S. and U.K. yet won’t help people in third world countries go to the temple, who will need to travel over a thousand miles, and spend ALL their life savings to go on ONE trip to the temple. I always hate stories like this that are happening today, I alway want to raise my hand, and say, “I don’t know about anyone else, but I would have donated some money to them, so they wouldn’t have to sacrifice so much of their money.”
I had a Young Single Adult Branch President, that always shook his head, and questioned the Stake President, when the Stake President told him to spend Church money to reimburse members to rent out the cheap theater, to watch a movie, to fulfil the mission of the church of perfecting the saints. At most a movie ticket at the cheap theater, including popcorn and soda, would cost $10, not including the popcorn and soda, the most amount for a movie ticket is $5 for a 3D film. My Branch President, and me for that matter, can’t understand why the church will pay for something as trivial as a movie, that the members could easily pay for themselves, and not save that money and help other members, especially members in third world countries, pay something that they need, and can’t pay for themselves.
As far as how much money people should give, the Pastor Rick Warren, in a TED talk called “Rick Warren: A life of purpose” said that when he wrote a book and it sold way more than he expected, making him wealthy, he said the first thing he did was to pay back his church the money they gave him, today he pays reverse tithing, where instead of paying one tenth of his money to the church, he gives to the church 90% and lives on 10%.