This week we have been teaching our Suffering lesson with Year 9s at Verulam, which, as you can imagine, can be a sensitive topic as we can easily get overwhelmed by the sheer amount and variety of suffering that we see in our own lives and in the news. The essence of the lesson is asking the question, how can Christians pray ‘hallowed be your name’ to an omnipotent (all-powerful) and all-loving God who allows suffering to exist in the world he created?
This dilemma is posed in the lesson by trying to teach a student to juggle, with the balls representing ‘God’s omnipotence’, ‘God being all-loving’ and ‘suffering still exists’. Although juggling is difficult, it is possible with a bit of practice and in the same way, Christians are able to juggle those 3 truths, despite there seemingly being a contradiction. There has been a lot of enthusiasm to learn to juggle, including some boys staying behind at lunch after a lesson to learn - I think I may need to set up a juggling club!
Fortunately, there has also been a lot of enthusiasm for the rest of the lesson too. To address the question at the heart of the lesson, the boys considered what a perfect parent would be like, why God giving humanity freewill was perhaps an immense act of love, how God comforts us through suffering, what the impact of The Fall and the existence of the devil is, how our actions make a difference to ourselves and others, what we can do to fix some of the problems in the world and respond to those who are suffering, how suffering can help grow our character, how Christians can have an eternal perspective and what God has done to ultimately solve the issue of suffering through Jesus suffering and dying on the cross.
It’s a lot to get through but it’s such a powerful lesson and the conversations we’ve had this week have been amazing.