“I believe in a God who suffers with us. A God who promises us meaning out of our sorrow and who will stretch and deepen our hearts as we will let Him and that that is the meaning of all of this,” says David F. Holland, Harvard Divinity School professor and son of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.
In fact, pain seems an unavoidable part of a disciple's experience, according to Holland. But that experience is individual and one that allows us to share another's pain without being overwhelmed by it. "We are biologically wired to flee pain and yet I think we are spiritually wired to run to it and so we live in that tension," Holland says in a podcast with LDS Perspectives. "But there is something in that sharing that is diffusive, that allows the other to shoulder it."
On October 29, 2016, Holland spoke on the topic “Latter-day Saints and the Problem of Pain” at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at BYU in Provo, Utah
Recently LDS Perspectives host Nick Galieti interviewed David Holland about his presentation at BYU, his further explorations on the seemingly paradoxical problem of pain, as well as the role pain and suffering play in the journey of the Christian disciple.
In the podcast, Holland reflects on counsel given to his father from Elder Neal A. Maxwell, prior to an address Holland’s father gave at BYU. The counsel was to be sensitive to the unseen problems that inform the varied histories of audience members, “There are scars that go unnoticed, but you must see them. You must tread with caution on the hallowed ground of another’s suffering.”
Holland shared that two members of his New England area stake committed suicide within a week of each other. It is in this backdrop that David spoke in simultaneous roles as an admittedly amateur-philosopher and historian-scholar.
“I don’t know what the moral calculus of pain and reward is in the moral universe," Holland says. "I do know that I have a lot of heroes in this life who have allowed their pain to deepen and expand their soul to provide the power of empathy and compassion that have changed lives around them.”
To learn more, listen to the podcast below: