Although I am convinced that Christians need (to the best of our ability) to be able to provide reasonable answers to the existence of suffering in the world. I am more convinced that the best way t0 win people to the Christian faith during times of suffering is in our actions.
When suffering strikes an individual, or a nation (like Japan during the time of this writing), they are not looking for a well-reasoned argument. Instead, they are looking for comfort.
Christians can provide comfort to the sufferer because we serve a God who provides comfort (2 Corinthians 1).
Let me share with you so practical ways that we can help the sufferer:
1. Be in their presence. Those who are suffering are aided when they have someone there with them. While we are with them our goal is not to be like Job’s friends and attempt to give them reasons for suffering. Instead we are there with them, “weeping with those who weep.”
2. A well-placed Scripture of encouragement. A say well-placed because sometimes we can do harm when we use Scripture out of context. For instance someone might have lost a child and we quote Romans 8:28 and explain that it was God’s will. That is not what Romans 8:28 is saying! However, quoting verses about God’s ability to comfort and shepherd us through difficult times can be helpful.
3. Prayer. In our modern culture we sometimes believe we are too busy for this. However, prayer is powerful. God can help the sufferer in ways we cannot.
4. Take care of their needs. Sometimes someone is suffering because they have lost everything (like Japan). Sometimes while we suffer we do not have the energy to do the most basic of things. Christians supplying the needs for those who suffer, show the world that God cares about them. When we aid the sufferer in the name of God, they can see that God is there to help them during the difficult time.
There is a time for reasoned arguments concerning the suffering question. However, when someone is in the midst of suffering the best apologetic is the way you treat them.
If you want to read reasonable arguments to the suffering questions click here.