What Is God Up To?: The Temptation to Overinterpret Suffering | Ed Welch

We tend to overinterpret suffering. There is something about the human mind that prefers answers. When life-changing events befall us, we often interpret them as highly personal messages. We do this with individuals. Every person whose troubles are known to a church community receives specific “biblical” interpretations for the trouble, or is asked, “What is God trying to teach you?” We do the same thing with corporate and national struggles. Perhaps we want some sense of control by knowing precise causes. Perhaps we want to find a unique mission and purpose. Or perhaps we see how the Old Testament makes connections between human behavior and divine consequences and assume that we who have the Spirit should be able to make similar connections. Whatever our reasons, we overinterpret suffering. At our worst, we believe that the suffering of other people is God’s discipline upon them. Meanwhile, we wonder if our troubles indicate God’s judgment on us as his church, or if he is planting hidden signs in our suffering that will lead us to better decisions and back into his favor. We prefer answers. [Read More]