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Elaine, I wasn't dismissing at all the marvelous and noble people who find joy in the midst of suffering and forgiveness in the midst of persecution ... that's why I said I believe God is even more powerfully present with people who are suffering. My point is that I can't believe God has any part in causing such suffering, or any part in wanting us to suffer it. I think it's quibbling to say "No", the Creator doesn't want us to "be happy" but wants us to "be joyful." A little linguistic gymnastics there. Certainly, being joyful for God in the midst of a joyful situation is far preferable to being joyful for God in the midst of a horrific one.
These stories are incredibly inspiring, but I do believe, if Americans were lived in the same conditions, as many here as in Asia would be just as noble. People are pretty much the same everywhere. But I can't build shrines to suffering, and I'll never believe God in any way wants that for any of us. One would hope at least God wants us to do all we can to create a world where that kind of persecution and suffering ends forever, not one where we almost accept its presence because we find it so admirable when people endure it with great courage and strength of spirit. They shouldn't have to endure it at all. Again, at least I hope that would be God's position, and that's the God I envision.
Go on to: Comments by Frank and Mary Hoffman - 14 Jan 2009
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