Samantha Ho asks Kelly Kapic some questions about suffering.
Dr. Kapic is our guest international lecturer for the upcoming ‘Faith & Suffering: Theological & Pastoral Explorations’ Intensive from 3-7 August.
SH: Why do you think ’suffering’ is often the most common apologetic topic Christians get asked about?
KK: I often say that the hardest question in theology is this: “Is God good?” We think the answer is easy, but after pastoring for awhile and going through the hurts and heartbreaks of life, this is a question that resonates with non-Christians, but also believers. We need to be honest about the challenges we face and questions we have. For only then will see start to see the true beauty of the incarnation and the wonder of the Gospel.
SH: Is there a figure in church history whose story has inspired you in thinking through suffering?
KK: I have learned a great deal from many past saints on this, including many living ones. But from Church history, one of the people who I have found keeps me sane when wrestling through these challenges theologically and experientially is Martin Luther. He was brutally honest, but also incredibly wise and captured by the grace of God, and this gives him some incredibly fresh insights.
SH: How about someone you know personally?
KK: I have learned more about God’s grace, faithfulness, and compassion from my wife Tabitha then anyone else. She had cancer in 2008 and has dealt with severe chronic pain everyday since the early summer of 2010. Walking alongside her has been both incredibly difficult but also a great privilege. She has taught me so much and I don’t believe I would have ever written or taught on this subject if it were not for her.
SH: Why might it be a good idea for pastoral leaders take up this unit next semester?
KK: Honestly, I don’t know how you can be a good pastor and not think long and hard about suffering. Whether or not you take this class, this is something a pastor must spend time wrestling about in prayer, scripture, working through in the tradition, and in the life of the congregation. In our fallen world, the question is not if people will suffer, but when and how. In many ways, this class is less about you learning the ‘answers’ and more about learning the ways of God, that you might know how to minister well and apply the truths of scripture to the concrete complexities of people’s lives, including your own. For example, we will not only talk about lament, we will actually practice it. We will not only talk about pain, we will listen to people’s stories and seek to cultivate the art of listening well. These are the kinds of skills we all hope every pastor is working to develop, so the hope is that this class might, even in a small way, learn to be ever more faithful in our callings and lives.
About the Faith & Suffering Intensive
Christ College is running an online intensive with Kelly Kapic & David Burke from 3-7 August, 2020. Read more on our webpage here.