God and Suffering

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God is capable of both love and discipline. Yet the reality we observed around us seem to blight that fact. We see sufferings, poverty, pain, injustice and all other negativities. It is hard indeed to imagine a loving God amidst all these.

God’s seeming indifference is puzzling. If He is truly a God of love how come all we see is suffering? In order to address that question we need to trace back our roots and see where we went wrong. We go back to the times when man was simply a meek and obedient creature, loved by God and not wearied by imperfections.

Man was perfect, incapable of sin. At least, that was how we started millions of years ago. When Eve and Adam ate the forbidden fruit in paradise they became aware of their nudity and were overcome by intense lust.  When confronted by God, they felt shame which meant they were aware of their mistakes. When Satan learned that the Tree of Knowledge is forbidden to Adam and Eve, he ponders “ignorance, is that their happy state, / the proof of their obedience and their faith?”  Indeed would ignorance be bliss? The fact that they felt ashamed of what they had done made it all too plain that their mistake went beyond lust.  Man’s biggest fall is brought about by disobedience.

God, in His omnipotence, knows what will happen if we all acquire free will or the freedom to choose right from wrong. He used the tree of knowledge as bait and put it in the middle of paradise because He knows at some point we would need it. It isn’t by accident that it is there.

God knows at some point, His most treasured creature would demand more independence from Him. He made man with the capacity to think. It would only be a matter of time that man would find ways to put his mind to good use. Rebellion was not farfetched. As exemplified by his most glorious angel, Satan, did.  Satan’s wiles to tempt Eve to eat the forbidden fruit were not accidents also. Satan became an unlikely instrument to hasten the rebellion and pave the way for its manifestation.  God does not play a passive part. After all, He is the Creator. And things come about because He acted His part.  

It was God’s love that prevented Him from banishing our race from earth forever and to grant us free will. The exercise of free will would inevitably determine the kind of fate we enjoy or live.  This means, we all have a choice and a say on what kind of life we want for ourselves by virtue of free will which we inadvertently inherit due to our first parents’ original sin, stamped on us since birth. 

It is free will that makes all the difference. Free will is tricky. Since all of us have free will and have the freedom to exercise it, conflict is inevitable. One’s joy is another man’s burden, so they say. Due to our uniqueness and sheer number, it would be hard to agree all the time.  Differences in opinion always occur. If conflicts got blown out of proportion, we consequently suffer.  Chaos sets in. 

In the midst of our confusion, we cry out to our loving Father to heed our sufferings.  He answers our pleas, of course. This may come as a huge surprise but He hears us often. Unfortunately, our confused minds fail to listen to His voice. God whispers.His advice can only be heard in the deep recesses of our hearts and not through obvious, external means.  When we are attuned to God’s voice, we hear Him even when He does not speak.

If we live in sin and are far from God, it is difficult to discern His will even if He shouts at us, even if the answer is staring at us. If man could not hear then he naturally assumes that God is indifferent to his plight. Man becomes discouraged.

We want always to be in a state of bliss. Our sins make that impossible though. Being imperfect, we are prone to commit sins of omission and/or commission.  Free wills clash.  This is the dilemma we faced. We are imperfect beings trying to measure up to a perfect God.  We blame God for every little thing that bothers us. We question Him. Why, we question His very existence.  Is He really for real? Why can we not see Him? Why won’t He talk to us face to face? Is their really a God?

We need proof of His existence. Otherwise we would rather rely on ourselves than rely on an invisible God. Is not proof as plain as day, literally? Everything we see speaks of a Superior Intelligence that took time to create the littlest cell to the largest organ.  But man, his complexity, does not believe that. The Big Bang theory is more reliable according to Him. Well, I for one, could not comprehend the fact that I came about because an accident in nature occurred instead of a well-thought out design. I mean isn’t that too much of a coincidence that I don’t look, think and act like anyone else in the planet of six billion people? 

Yes I complain about a God who does not help me at all times; who leaves me to my own device especially in times of struggles. But I would not have it any other way. I mean, I am not a defenseless or helpless person who needs assistance 24/7.  I am a man – able, capable and independent.  I don’t need a God who constantly breathes on my neck, telling me what to do every step of the way. Where is the fulfillment in being told what to do? No thanks.

Science is commendable for it has achieved great strides in promoting mankind. At the same time, it has also managed to reduce us to mere creatures of comfort.  Look at the number of gadgets science has invented to facilitate our lives and speed up work – computers, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, microwave ovens and so many others. Yet, how come we never find the time to be with our loved ones.  How ironic could that be?

The world is getting smaller and more connected. Yet how come many still feel more alienated than ever? Probably because we all want talk but nobody wants to listen. No wonder there is a rising tide of marriage meltdowns and relationship break-ups these days.

Knowledge has twisted our lives, our relationships, our ideas of God.  God was right. The best punishment was not death but knowledge of right and wrong.  We end up punishing each other. We choose our punishment. Too much knowledge did not liberate us as expected. It serve to imprison us some more as our wants evolve and increase. We concern ourselves too much with the non-essentials that we fail to grasp the beauty of basking in (and not in unraveling) the mystery.  The mystery is best lived by faith.

Faith is not in believing what we can comprehend but in knowing for certain what we don’t know for sure.  It is an inner state where we accept things for what they are and not the way we want them to be.  Knowledge sometimes could not be discerned through the mind but revealed through the heart.  

Fortunately though, God has given us a leeway in the person of His son Jesus Christ.  Humans may have transgressed God’s laws through the attainment of knowledge and were forever cast out of paradise, but the promise of redemption by the Son of God has bridged the widening gap.

Christ success teaches us that we do not earn redemption by attaining perfection.  Redemption is achieved through faith. It offers a new lease on life. We have a choice not to end up a failure, after all.  

This is easier said than done though. Man, after all, does not believe in simple things.  There is something fishy in simple things. It prompts man to ask ‘what’s the catch?’  Man’s complex mind and insatiable hunger for knowledge do not prepare him to accept the simplicity of attaining salvation. Faith is not an acceptable solution.  Man has not attain all those fantastic scientific inventions and technological advancements to end up justifying so simple a term as faith.  No. It doesn’t happen that way. Sin is a complex probable that requires complex solution. So man is back to square one. He has issues on faith.  How to get man out of his own way is probably the biggest puzzle that defies answer.

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