Why must there be suffering?

One may admit that love, compassion, truth, and other qualities bring the greatest joy – so why were we not created with these qualities from the start? It seems that we have arrived at where we began. Why were we not put into Paradise from the start? Why were these virtues not simply programmed into us?

The answer is almost obvious: virtue, if programmed, is not true virtue; it is always something less. You can program a computer to never make an incorrect statement but it does not thereby become a truthful computer; nor does a CAT scanner possess compassion, although it is made to help the sick.

[..] to learn to be truthful requires the option to lie, and hence the ability to choose and discern. A higher level of honesty is attained if we insist on speaking the truth in adversity, say at the threat of physical or material loss. To grow in compassion, there must be suffering and the choice to ignore it. And so it is with all the virtues: love, charity, justice, forgiveness, and the like. To grow in each of them, we must have the alternative to do otherwise and the possibility for the existence of hate, indifference, greed, vengeance, and, obviously, suffering.

Struggling to Surrender by Dr. Jeffrey Lang (page 55, 56)

References to natural phenomena in the Qur’an

The “signs” [Qur’anic references to natural phenomena] accomplish exactly what their designation suggest: they act as guideposts, capture one’s attention, assist in guiding one to deeper reflection, and, sometimes, to belief. Their power lies not in giving explicit and precise descriptions of natural phenomena, but in their ability to inspire man’s curiosity and awe throughout the ages.

Struggling to Surrender by Dr. Jeffrey Lang (page 38)

He knew me better than I knew myself

You cannot simply read the Qur’an, not if you take it seriously. You either have surrendered to it already or you fight it. It attacks tenaciously, directly, personally; it debates, criticizes, shames, and challenges. From the outset it draws the lines of battle, and I was on the other side.

I was at a severe disadvantage, for it became clear that the Author knew me better than I knew myself.

Struggling to Surrender by Dr. Jeffrey Lang (page 9)