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Suffering


Suffering Redeemed: A Reformed Argument Against Physician Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia by Rev. Steven D. Aguzzi, Ph.D. candidate, is associate pastor at Mt. Lebanon United Presbyterian Church and instructor of theology at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA.   Aguzzi argues that "whereas Jesus worked to alleviate suffering, there was a kind of suffering which he modeled as a way of approaching death for those who were to follow him, this involves a lifestyle consistent with the surrendering of one's death to the will of God for the sake of a higher purpose."  Aguzzi looks at Catholic and Reformed teaching on the meaning of suffering. He then examines the PCUSA 1981 document, "The Nature and Value of Human Life."  Aguzzi concludes by looking at the "Redeemed Nature of Suffering and the Reintegration of Discipleship and Witness in the Reformed Tradition by examining Paul's writing in Scripture and Calvin's view of discipleship.  "According to Calvin, it is not the hastening of death that brings healing, but God, who '...confronts us and subjects and restrains our unrestrained flesh with the remedy of the cross.'"  Mar/Apr 2011 Theology Matters p. 1

Position Statement on Euthanasia by Presbyterians Pro-Life, p. 10.  Their position is based on Scripture and concludes that Christians should act to alleviate suffering, but not at any cost. "Christians must follow their Master in humbly serving those who suffer and acting to alleviate their suffering."  They conclude, "as followers of Jesus Christ we cling to our hope that the Holy Spirit has given us a lively faith in our precious Lord, and that through His blood our sins will be forgiven and we will be welcomed into His glorious presence where there is 'fullness of joy [and]...pleasures for evermore.'"  Mar/Apr 2011 Theology Matters p. 10

I Want to Burden My Loved Ones by Gilbert Meilaender, reprinted from First Things Journal, March 2010, No. 201, p. 25-26. Having attended conferences on "advance directives," Meilaender has observed a common theme of people wanting to avoid being a burden to their children as they approach the end of their lives.  So,Meilaender examines this fear head-on.  He observes that being a burden to others is part of our claim upon each other. The question that caregivers must answer as they face the end of life of a loved one is not, "What would he have wanted?" but rather, "What can we do to benefit the life he still has?"  Mar/Apr 2011 Theology Matters  p. 12

What Was Lost: A Christian Journey Through Miscarriage by Elise Erikson Barrett, p. 14. This is an excerpt from her book by the same name published in 2010 by Westminster/John Knox Press.   While in seminary, Barrett experienced the loss of their unborn child and struggled with questions of faith when the God she proclaimed allowed this to happen.  Her spiritual journey of searching for answers is comforting and revealing.  She includes liturgies for memorial services for the child.  And she has practical ideas of what people should and should not say and do. We encourage readers to share this book with study groups and parents who have lost a child before birth. Barrett is a Methodist minister.  Mar/Apr 2011 Theology Matters  p. 14

 

Losing the Life of Our Dreams: A Christian View of Suffering by M. Craig Barnes, senior pastor of National Presbyterian church, Washington, DC. He is the author of Yearning: Living Between How It Is and How It Ought to Be; and When God Interrupts: Finding New Life through Unwanted Change.  Barnes observes that "suffering is a part of our lives" and yet we almost believe we have a "RIGHT, to live without this suffering because it is preventing us from being whole."  Barnes looks at Created Limitations; Rehearsing Identity; the Use for Suffering; and the Choice.  Jul/Aug 1996 Theology Matters p. 1

The Terrible Necessity of Tribulation: C.S. Lewis on Human Suffering by James R. Edwards, PCUSA minister and chairman of the Religion and Philosophy Department at Jamestown College, Jamestown, ND.  Edwards observes, "God's job is not simply to keep his creatures happy or contented; he wills to see them changed, ultimately into his own likeness."  Edwards continues, "When we suffer we often accuse God of too little love.  the truth is actually the reverse; our pain in such instances is the result of a 'love that will not let us go,' to quote the hymnist."  Jul/Aug 1996 Theology Matters  p. 4

Baptized into Christ's Death by Shirley Smith, pastor of Mt.. Horeb and White Plains PCUSA churches.  Smith writes, "Only the mystery of the cross can shed light on the darkness of human suffering.  It is Jesus Christ's birth , life, ministry, death and Resurrection that gives to our lives the meaning we so long for." Jul/Aug 1996 Theology Matters  p. 7