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Recently, Miss Heather posed an interesting question for discussion. (I commented. So should you.)

If an action helps hundreds, yet hurts one, is it worth it?

After I’d commented a couple of times, I was going back through some of my personal Tumblr posts and found a couple of (long) quotes from The Shack.

I thought I’d share them, because they’re very interesting and kind of go along with Heather’s question.

(The first paragraph is spoken by Papa, AKA God. Sarayu is the Holy Spirit.)

“…there are millions of reasons to allow pain and hurt and suffering rather than to eradicate them, but most of those reasons can only be understood within each person’s story. I am not evil. You are the ones who embrace fear and pain and power and rights so readily in your relationships. But your choices are also not stronger than my purposes, and I will use every choice you make for the ultimate good and the most loving outcome.”

“You see,” interjected Sarayu, “broken humans center their lives around things that seem good to them, but that will neither fill them or free them. They are addicted to power, or the illusion of security that power offers. When a disaster happens, those same people will turn against the false powers they trusted. In their disappointment, they either become softened toward me or they become bolder in their independence. If you could only see how all of this ends and what we will achieve without the violation of the human will—then you would understand. One day you will.”

“But the cost!” Mack was staggered. “Look at the cost—all the pain, all the suffering, everything that is so terrible and evil.” He paused and looked down at the table. “And look what it has cost you. Is it worth it?”

“Yes!” came the unanimous, joyful response of all three.

“But how can you say that?” Mack blurted. “It all sounds like the end justifies the means, that to get what you want you will go to any length, even if it costs the lives of billions of people.”

“Mackenzie.” It was the voice of Papa again, especially gentle and tender. “You really don’t understand yet. You try to make sense of the world in which you live based on a very small and incomplete picture of reality. It is like looking at a parade through the tiny knothole of hurt, pain, self-centeredness, and power, and believing you are on your own and insignificant. All of these contain powerful lies. You see pain and death as ultimate evils and God as the ultimate betrayer, or perhaps, at best, as fundamentally untrustworthy. You dictate the terms and judge my actions and find me guilty.”

“The real underlying flaw in your life, Mackenzie, is that you don’t think that I am good. If you knew I was good and that everything—the means, the ends, and all the processes of individual lives—is all covered by my goodness, then while you might not always understand what I am doing, you would trust me. But you don’t.”

Sarayu spoke. “Mackenzie, you cannot produce trust just like you cannot ‘do’ humility. It either is or it is not. Trust is the fruit of a relationship in which you know you are loved. Because you do not know that I love you, you cannot trust me.”

“…For now I just want you to be with me and discover that our relationship is not about performance or you having to please me. I’m not a bully, not some self-centered demanding little deity insisting on my own way. I am good, and I desire only what is best for you. You cannot find that through guilt or condemnation or coercion, only through a relationship of love. And I do love you.” 

“I just can’t imagine any final outcome that would justify all this.”

“Mackenzie.” Papa rose out of her chair and walked around the table to give him a big squeeze. “We’re not justifying it. We are redeeming it.”

To answer Heather’s question, I need to know the whole context.

Is it physical pain that is relatively easy to recover from? Is it emotional pain that one can “get over” eventually? Like hurt feelings?

Many of the people who commented jumped straight to death. That wasn’t what Heather meant, but we jumped to it as kind of a worst-case scenario. (At least, I did.)

It also depends on the “good” that will come of the pain.

If someone who was injured in a car accident managed, by being in that accident, to save a hundred people from injury or death, then yes, I believe the pain would be worth it. (It would help if the injured person saw it that way too.)

If it was hurt feelings, or some sort of emotional pain like that, something that with time could be fixed, then I think I’d say yes, it’s worth it.

I suppose it depends on your definition of “hurt” and your definition of “good.” Everyone has their own opinion, really.

It reminds me of Psychology class. We were once asked to write our responses to hypothetical situations. One situation was something like this, where you had to kill off one person you’d never met in order to save the rest of the world. I said that I’d rather volunteer to die than have to kill someone I’d never met.

Of course, I’m a firm believer in “You don’t know what you’d do in a situation until you’re actually IN that situation.” You can talk all you want, but when you’re thrown into that situation, you might just do the complete opposite.


And now I’m watching Soul Surfer with my roommate. On a Sunday. I missed church, but that’s okay I guess… Sometimes it’s okay to miss. Sometimes the things you learn outside of church services are just as valuable as the things you would learn in those church services. That doesn’t mean church isn’t important, but the things you learn outside of church are important, too. You know?

Okay, and I had a thought about this based on Soul Surfer. Since Bethany was injured (and recovered awesomely), probably thousands (if not more) people have been “saved” somehow. Like, think about it. Her story is impacting people across the globe. I’d say her attack was worth it. Wouldn’t you?