God and Suffering [Blog/Reflection]

God and Suffering [Blog/Reflection]

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Tragedies occur everyday.  So much has happened in the last few months alone – feelings of injustice surrounding the Zimmerman trial, the DC Navy Yard shootings, the mass killings in the Kenyan mall, and of course the non-heavily publicized instances that happen locally.  Things just seem so out of control at times.

In times of tragedy, so many of us want answers.  We want to know why x happened, why it wasn’t  prevented, and for many, where was God in all of it.  When we’re in a time of grief and questioning, wanting answers is normal, so is confusion and anger.  I’ve come to realize that sometimes we know exactly why a person would harm another and other times we are left clueless. What becomes tricky is understanding how a God we perceive as loving would allow such horrible things to happen to so many of us.  So let me discuss that piece, it’s one I’ve struggled with myself.

Why does God allow suffering?  Why are so many children all over the world starving and dying?  Why did ______  happen to _______?  Very valid questions and I’ve had similar ones.  One that I’ve wondered about in the last few years is how can we say God blessed me with ________ (job, house, car, spouse, etc), and even believe that God favors certain people (Christians, Believers, whoever), but be fully aware of the suffering others experience across this planet.  Has God blessed me with this job but not blessed another person with clean water to drink?  Has God blessed me with this $20 I found on the ground but not blessed a child to be protected from their rapist?  I think there’s a disconnect and we don’t always realize it.  It’s easier to only see what happens in our world, the world we’ve created for ourselves in whatever part of our community or country.

In thinking about this it makes me wonder, are we thinking of and experiencing an external God, an internal God or both?  Do we see God as outside of us, having power to use and not use for our benefit or demise?  Is God inside of us, helping to guide our decisions?  Or maybe some combination of both or something totally different that I haven’t mentioned?  I guess there’s no real need to label ourselves but how we answer the question of suffering is based on how we view God’s role in our lives and in the world.

One thing that has struck me about God’s presence, is every time I have felt or not felt God, there have been people around, even if the only person around was me.

So having said that, maybe when we’re looking at why God is or isn’t doing something, as if certain things are in God’s hands, maybe the hands “it” really resides in are our own. So many of us consider ourselves to be made in the image of God and believe we have the Divine/Holy Spirit within.  Maybe using that Spirit, intuition, communication, giving, compassion and all the other great qualities we possess are what’s necessary to…stop suffering. Of course somethings will be out of our hands (we all will die one day), but maybe the extent and way things occur don’t have to happen if we use are God-given traits, if we care for one another better (not just those we know and like).  The resources we have on this planet are abundant, nothing is going to fall out of the sky.

I recently read a HuffPost Religion article on the most important lessons a Rabbi learned during his time serving people.  You can read it here.

In the article, this story stuck out to me:

“All of the lessons I have learned might be summed up in the story of the young man who felt so overcome by a sense of despair when he thought of all the injustice, pain and cruelty in the world, that he lifted up his voice to God in anger and sorrow and said, “Dear God, how can you allow all this injustice, pain, and cruelty in the world and do nothing?” Then he heard the gentle, inner voice of the divine whispering in his heart, “I didn’t do nothing. I made you.”

God didn’t do nothing, God made us.

What are your thoughts about suffering, God’s role in this world (sovereignty) and our role in this world?  Do you have a different point of view?