Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Mystery of Suffering?

Perhaps the most difficult part of digesting an agonizing moment in one's life is the uncertainty, chaos, and hopelessness it evokes. It is in this excruciating emotional state that most cries for the Divine Interceder seem to evanesce into some dark abyss, followed by an inexorable silence. No matter how wise, knowledgeable, and profound the spirituality of the mystic might be, NO ONE has ever given a satisfactory answer to the question why God lets bad things happen to good people. I don't care who or what brought on the sufferings of an innocent child, the injustice the powerless and the weak are subjected to, no theologian can provide a response to the "mystery of suffering" with adequacy that is proportional to the suffering itself.

By the sufferings of a child, and the injustice to the weak, I'm attempting to address the response some believers rebuttal with when presented with God's uncompromising truancy. Their argument is that human beings have free will (a gift from the Almighty) and are therefore free to treat each other as they see fit. This is true. We (human beings) are by far the single biggest contributors to our own misery and demise (by the way, don't forget natural disasters, decease, etc. that have nothing directly to do with human comportment). But what does that have to do with God's scantiness? What I do as a sadist or failed humanitarian does not relieve him of his responsibilities as a Father, all-loving, omnipotent, Creator. I know that if I had the ability to assist those who truly needed from me I would do so without a second to spare. If even I feel this way, why doesn't God? How much divinity would it take away from him if he intervened when we needed him most?

This post is not meant as an inveigh against God in any way. But it does bring the cliched question "Why God lets bad things happen to good people" to its lowest common denominator. And although the question has been around since human beings had any concept of who and what God is, in all my explorations and introversion I've yet to find an answer - or anyone with an answer - to this perennial observation.

Take care,Tom


kris said...

I think often we don't recognize the answer IN the suffering... that perhaps our lack of faith, or ability to be present to our own suffering causes us to wail against it and be deaf to the work God might be doing. I don't think God "causes" suffering or "tests" our faith. I do believe that God has the power to bring good FROM our suffering, but we must (in some way) "trust in the slow work of God". And I am convinced, as C.S. Lewis would argue, that we are indeed "tested" only to learn the depth and strength of our own faith- God already knows it. He is like the master sculptor- not unlike Michelangelo, who claimed to already see the image inside a slab of stone and only chiseled to bring its real self to light. As for children? Perhaps it seems mindless, but becomes a lesson in some way to the rest of us. I suffered tremendously as a child and have no doubts now about the strength of character that gave me.
I would almost venture to say I am thankful now for the abuses.

In short, God's ways are not are ways, nor his thoughts our thoughts. I think it's easy to box him in and expect him to behave as we would, rushing to the rescue- perhaps he does, just not in the way we understand it. What we are taught is that he is WITH us IN it.
And has suffered it already, and in that solidarity, often peace (even in pain) is found.

Just my 2 cents.

Love this. You get me thinking.

adele and dan said...

Wow, kris really has some strong points. The big picture is hard to see, when we are down here looking up.