Suffering and the message of Jesus

The question of suffering in the world is one that many people struggle with because there seems to be no good answers to why people suffer. 

If as Richard Dawkins says, human beings are present in the world with no design, no method, no meaning, or nothing special about us as human beings, then suffering is just something that happens. We are just random molecules occupying a position in space and time, “dancing to our DNA” as Dawkins puts it. We should just accept that we are here now until we are gone. Our present condition is the hand that we have be dealt by the invisible hand of pure chance, and there is not a thing that we can do about it. 

Others say that we are here for a divine purpose and whatever that purpose is we can only find it by connecting with the higher power that is responsible for us being here. On the other hand there are those who simply cannot accept the idea of a higher power because of all the injustices, pain and suffering in the world. 

Whereas however, some people cannot accept the idea of the higher power (God or whatever others call the being) because of all that they perceive to be wrong in the world, others say that because of all that is wrong in the world, they are drawn to the higher power. Then of course there is the question of, if there is indeed a higher power; how do we find our way to that higher power? 

Some look to the great religions of the world and say that they are all fundamentally the same so it does not matter, just pick one and try to reach the higher power through the means that you choose. Others say, no way; if there is indeed a higher power then we owe it to ourselves to find out what we must do to reach that higher power. 

Despite what people say, the great religions of the world are fundamentally different, but share some similarities at the surface. Every way cannot possibly lead to the entity that we call God because of the fundamental differences in what they each prescribe to know God. 

For some people, none of this matters. They say that they are only here for a time and whatever lies in the hereafter, or not, they will deal with when they depart this world. Whatever the answer to these questions are, everyone owes it to themselves to seriously search and find the answer that truly satisfies the spirit and the soul. The answer however cannot simply be based on how one feels, but it must be derived after a search that thoroughly investigates the evidence, and go wherever the evidence leads (if one is so inclined). 

One person who found the answer is a woman by the name of Annie Johnston Flynn. Hers is a very interesting story. Her life consisted of what many would describe as pain, misery and suffering, but she would say that it was only that way in one sense. She would describe her life as one that was filled with love, faith, hope and joy, despite her suffering which was real indeed. 

She was born as Annie Johnston and became an orphan as a small child. She was three years old when her mother died at age 23. She was adopted by her Foster parents (the Flints, hence her last name Flint) with whom she and her little sister then lived.  Her father gave them up for adoption. He too was terminally ill and he soon passed away after giving the children up for adoption. 

As a child living with the Flints she says that she came to understand the words of Jesus when he said “thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” because she came to know personally the saving grace of Christ. She had a happy childhood and continued to grow in her personal faith, and it was this faith in Jesus that prepared her for the suffering that was ahead in her life. 

Her life was filled with promise but she developed arthritis that was so terrible as a young woman that she eventually became twisted up in bed for decades. Ms. Flint became incontinent, and she had to wear diapers for the rest of her life. She developed sores all over her body, and she began to go blind later in her life.  

These afflictions were only part of her story. She faced many trials in her life, but through them all, she took the words of Jesus to heart when he said to “come unto me all of you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest unto your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” 

Her life was an inspiration to many and she was dedicated to letting others know of the grace that she found in Jesus Christ to make it through this world, and her hope for the next.

Part of her legacy is one of the most beautiful hymns ever written. 

May you know the grace that she spoke of in this meaningful song.


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