As if there isn’t enough pain and suffering in the world, let me write another blog post to bring some more into it. I want to continue my theme from two posts ago where I began talking about pain and suffering and whether or not God is responsible for it.
In part 1 we pretty much decided that God doesn’t make us suffer. He loves us and doesn’t want us to suffer. Yet we still do, bad things still happen. This brings up the next question: Why does God allow us to suffer? If God is really in control of everything, if He knows what everyone is going to do, why would He even let bad things happen?
When I began my journey back to the faith, this is one of those questions I wrestled with all the time. I still do. Here is an example: Some years ago my sister and brother-in-law experienced the tragic loss of their four year old son. It was an accident involving a dump truck. Why didn’t God prevent this accident? This was an innocent child, his parents are good christians – why couldn’t God have let their son live?
It was an accident for sure, but why did God let it happen? This certainly caused a lot of suffering for all of us, family and friends. If God doesn’t want us to suffer, He certainly missed the mark on this one. Two of the sayings we so often hear and probably use ourselves at times like this is “Everything happens for a reason” and “God must have a plan.” What could God’s reason or plan possibly be? I think those are lame excuses.
If you think about these terms and others like them, it makes a person think it is their fault the bad thing happened. “You must have done something bad and God has a plan to punish you.” “Everything happens for a reason and in your case the reason must be because God is punishing you for some grievous sin you committed.” Since most of us think God hates us anyways this is where we go with our thinking. God doesn’t punish us. Even Jesus tells us that our suffering isn’t because of our sins”
As he passed by he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.New American Bible. (2011). (Revised Edition, Jn 9:1–3). Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
What Jesus is saying is the there is pain and suffering so that “the works of God might be made visible through him”. In this case it is the miracle Jesus performs on the blind man. Can good come out of pain? It can if we let it.
Go back to September 11, 2001. Was there any good that came from that tragedy? I would say yes there was. Some of it may not have lasted but much of it did. Did good come from the death of my nephew? Yes there has been some. Enough to have made his death mean something? That I can’t say.
Bad things are going to happen. God has given us free will, all of us. This means that there is evil in the world, and evil people who will blow up buildings and airplanes. Because God believes in human freedom, He won’t stop evil people from doing evil things. That would be depriving us of our human freedom.
What about natural disasters? Surely God can prevent these? When we look at the earth God made it with all kinds of natural laws. There is gravity to keep us grounded. There is air and water and land that causes whether. There are forces that play against each other causing shifts in the plates making up the earth and when they move bad things can happen. I’m far from being a scientist but many of these natural things are necessary. If we didn’t have volcanoes and earthquakes to let out some of the pressure inside the earth, wouldn’t we explode? Maybe God indirectly causes natural disasters since He created the earth, but I also think He built into it what was needed to sustain life and the earth itself.
My head is starting to hurt here. None of this explains why my nephew had to die. He didn’t die in a natural disaster or a terrorist attack, he died as a result of an accident. I think there will need to be a part three.