Raymond Viernes: All suffering is a God given opportunity for individual sanctification. Blessings abound.
Eric Taylor: Crippling depression, crippling polio, car accidents, mass shootings. Let’s not forget atomic fire, holocausts, Holocausts, and parents who hate and alienate their children because they think Jesus told them to on account of their “choices.”
“Here! You sixty people, you get dead. The rest of you miserable bastards? Well, this is your chance to clean up and get right with me. Feel the holy! And if you’re one of the lucky ones I have the opportunity to survive? That inability to pay medical bills that’s going to drive you to bankruptcy and homelessness? Git gud, son. It’s a chance to purify your spirit.”
It’s “opportunities” like this that often leave me thinking that God made the world and just went on walkabout, saying, “You sons of bitches are on your own now.”
If one makes little attempt to ponder suffering: why it is here in the first place; how God uses it for the best in our lives if we follow Him, then we will come out with this sort of pessimistic “who cares?” attitude.
But it’s human nature to want to blame God for absolutely everything. You bring up the Holocaust. Now how was that God‘s fault? The whole damned thing and World War II could have easily been prevented if folks had simply listened to Winston Churchill, who was warning about Hitler and his military build-up for most of the 30s (and was roundly mocked and despised for so doing). But we wanted to put our heads in the hand and be stupid, so we got WWII (at least the European part) and the Holocaust. And then when that happens, of course we can’t admit it was because of our stupidity and fantasies of peace with madmen, so we blame God.
We have overcome depression in most cases by medication and therapy (I know: my whole family has suffered from it, as have I). We have the polio vaccine, through human ingenuity. Many car accidents can be prevented by not drinking or fooling with smart phones. But we want to blame God for car accidents, too. We can easily solve the health care crisis (like most of the world has) by intelligent effort, and things like tort reform, control of malpractice suits, allowing competition across state lines. But the fatcats and the politicians in bed with them won’t allow it. But again, it’s human stupidity and selfishness and greed that prevents it. Why would anyone want to blame God for our own mistakes?
God’s judgment is only one aspect of His character. He is love as well.
I just have trouble grasping the presence of God’s love (for his chosen people, no less–the people mos absolutely special to him, that he made a lasting covenant with) in the boxcars and the showers.
I have trouble grasping God’s love in Las Vegas, or Rwanda, or Myanmar.
I have trouble grasping God’s love when prosperity gospel preachers ask for money from people who are wringing their clothes and their eyes out in the aftermath of losing everything.
God’s judgment may be terrible and worth fearing, but his indifference to suffering and misery of the losers is beyond the scope of my understanding or acceptance.
I have trouble grasping that God has any love for his creation anymore, if he ever had it to begin with.
So what is it you expect God to do to prove that He loves us? He’s supposed to perform a miracle to prevent every evil that we do to one another? Now it’s God’s fault for the prosperity preachers, because people are so stupid to fall for their lies?
We see His love in Jesus Christ. If you wanna see what God is like, He is where you look. That won’t explain the overall “problem of evil” but it will give you an idea of what God we serve and what He was willing to go through for our sake. If we have to suffer, so did He. He didn’t just sit up in heaven all comfy cozy. He was lied about, betrayed, denied, given no honor in His own town, had no place to lay His head, was called crazy and demon-possessed, went through a sham trial, was beaten to a pulp, mocked, carried His cross, and was crucified: all for the sake of our salvation.
If that doesn’t show love, what does, in your estimation? And the answer (if you give one at all) is not to simply repeat a laundry list of more horrible things that human beings do to one another.
You can choose to live in misery and despair and hopelessness if you like. God gives you that freedom. But you don’t have to. You can have a life of joy and hope and meaning, no matter what suffering you have gone through.
I get really really tired (as an apologist) hearing people blaming God all the time for the evil that is clearly the fault of human beings. I understand hurt and suffering and all the emotions involved, but folks need to put the blame where it belongs and not shift it to God. In the end it’s often just a bad excuse for rebellion or disobedience. If you’re hurting, come talk. I’ll listen. I’ve suffered a lot, too, in my life. I have sympathy and empathy.
God loves you. There is an Answer. Life can be better. You can be transformed. There is hope and even joy for you. But first things first. You have to stop blaming God. That’s not the solution to anything. It’ll only make you more bitter and miserable than you are.
Photo credit: still from Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion of the Christ (2004); posted on a web page from Baptist Press.