Thinking Out Loud

August 5, 2016

The Pastoral Problem

Filed under: Christianity, personal — Tags: , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:49 am

I’m writing this in a moment of brokenness…

…So a few weeks ago our church did a four-week series on apologetics, and one of the weeks dealt with the problem of evil. The speaker was quick to point out something that both my son and I immediately caught on to when he said that the question, “If there is a God then why is there evil in the world?” might be coming from two different places.

The speaker explained that there is the intellectual problem of God and evil coexisting, but then there is the pastoral problem; “If God is love, why is there so much pain and hurt in my life?”

I love when people give you the words to properly articulate a situation or issue. So many times since, I’ve said to myself, ‘You’re reflecting the pastoral question; or the pastoral side of things.’

The pastoral is personal; it’s subjective; it’s taken up with with the cries of one’s own heart.

And that’s where I find myself right now. I’m asking myself how can I keep giving of myself and serving others in ministry — mostly through my vocational calling, but also through my various blogs — when the cry of my heart seems to go unanswered. I really don’t know how much more I have to give.

Ah, yes; the problem of unanswered prayer. It’s partly that, but it’s also just a general brokenness; a feeling that God has distanced himself from the circumstances and situations which make up my personal journey. Some of it is just self-pity. So many things I dreamed of — even for this summer — not accomplished as time slips away…

…So if it’s a pastoral problem, why not see a pastor? I guess I’m in a season where I don’t really have that go-to person in my life; which is ironic because I am surrounded by clergy. I don’t want to have to sit down and pour out the minutiae of my life to people whose life is so very different from mine, or people with whom our basis of association hasn’t had to include the details of our family situation. It would feel good to talk, but at the end of the day I’m not sure they would get it. (Cue: Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen.)

I think I need a shepherd.

Even more, I really need a hug.




  1. I am sure you underestimate the people around you. I used to think people wouldn’t get me either but 5, surprisingly, there are a few who do.

    Never know until you ask.

    God bless,


    Comment by The Isaiah 53:5 Project — August 5, 2016 @ 8:10 am

    • Thanks for that encouragement. BTW, I just checked out your website, I hope you’ll consider submitting something to Christianity 201 sometime.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — August 5, 2016 @ 8:29 am

  2. Here is a big HUG!

    Jesus loves you.

    Comment by angie — August 5, 2016 @ 8:55 am

  3. It is written, ” I will never leave, nor forsake you”


    Why have you left me? Why have you forsaken me?
    Those are my questions.

    All I hear is silence.
    Sometimes it is hard to believe, so very hard.

    Where is God?

    A friend called this my dark night of the soul. It doesn’t help. But maybe the words are meaningful to you.

    Get out in nature, find the courage to lay on the ground, let the earth hold(hug) you; It is God’s very creation.

    Comment by MJ — August 5, 2016 @ 2:02 pm

  4. The Lord says several times that He will not leave you or forsake you. If He says it several times, you can gather that He means it hence He has not left you or forsaken you, even as you read this (or in my case as I write this). Mother Teresa suffered greatly from her perceived ‘silence of God’. She ultimately fell upon the idea that her great desire for God was a result of the spark of the Holy Ghost within her. If you are doing something wrong or He wants you to do something else then He will get in touch with you, and He’ll make it apparent. Your work for Him is not in vain even if you can’t see it, perhaps it is meant for someone down the road you will never meet. Perhaps you’ll serve as a catalyst for a great revival one day or maybe bring together a mother and a daughter who have had harsh words between them. They would both be equally great events.

    Comment by The Purging Lutheran — August 5, 2016 @ 8:42 pm

  5. I especially liked, “If He says it several times, you can gather that He means it.”

    Thanks for those very appropriate words.

    Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — August 5, 2016 @ 8:53 pm

  6. Virtual hugs only count for so much, but please accept this one. Thanks for the interesting topics and thoughts you post. I hope you find that trustworthy go-to person.

    Comment by sonworshiper — August 5, 2016 @ 10:47 pm

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