“If our faith is strong, we should be patient with the Lord’s followers whose faith is weak. We should try to please them instead of ourselves. We should think of their good and try to help them by doing what pleases them. Even Christ did not try to please Himself.” – Romans 15:1-3

Because of the tsunami and radiation issues in Japan, many speculations have arisen. People have reacted in news and gave their own opinions about what was happening. If you click this link:

http://ph.yfittopostblog.com/2011/03/11/several-ph-provinces-under-tsunami-alert-after-japan-quake/#

 you will find a discussion page where people commented about related topics such as why a loving God would allow bad things to happen to good people.

A certain Paolo O pointed out that:

“WHERE IS YOUR GOD WHEN THINGS LIKE THIS HAPPEN??? Same as the 9/11, World Wars, Poverty in Africa. Inequality in this system that puts the whole world into the brink of discussion through massive consumerism. WAKE UP.”

Jeffrey, another reader responded to him and written:

“Ask yourself first where you are when things like this haven’t happened yet. Have you even remembered God for a while? Oh yeah of course, I’m sorry, I’m mistaken, ‘you have other god’!!!

And Paolo O replied to Jeffrey:

“No, the point is, why would this even have to happen, this is not man-made, if he’s the God that divides the Red Sea, why can’t he stop the earthquake? Whatever”.

Another reader shared her opinion. She was Stryker_2011 (I knew she was a girl because she was my officemate and she was the one who shared about the discussion thread):

“My GOD has and is always around. You’re just not really looking into…maybe even feel-less that you can’t sense HIS CALLING to YOU! MY GOD really is a GOD of love, even to your kind of thoughts, but then people like your kind of thoughts is what keeps this ball of destructions rolling… thus, GOD has to teach us, HIS rebels, lessons, with rough edges to awaken before it’s really too late, much too late, til there will not be a single option left, even to crawl! So watch out, little rebel…”

Paolo O responded to Stryker_2011’s comment:

“God of love that lets people perish, good or bad, in the most brutal way. Yep, thats love alright.”

Honestly, I was disturbed to Paolo’s arguments (as well as others’-you can follow the thread in the link I mentioned above) and was challenged to answer. I discussed about the thread with my churchmate and asked him how we will respond. I told him that we should be very careful because it was written in the Bible that:

“Welcome all the Lord’s followers, even those whose faith is weak. Don’t criticise them for having beliefs that are different from yours.”- Romans 14:1-2

As Christians, we understood that these questions are essential in our learning process. When the right time comes (in the end it was a fight between good and evil), it is necessary that we are equipped with memory verses (memorised Bible passages) so that when someone questions our faith we will be able to answer (or enlighten the person somehow).

Last night, before I went to sleep, I prayed for understanding. I asked God the same question,

“If You are loving, why would You allow suffering to happen even to good people?”

I read my Bible and it was written:

“Day and night I went without sleep, trying to understand what goes on this world. I saw everything God does, and I realized that no one can really understand what happens. We may be very wise, but no matter how much we try or how much we claim to know, we cannot understand it all.”-Ecclesiastes 8: 16-17

WISDOM FROM PEOPLE AND OWN EXPERIENCES

1. BLIND GRANDFATHER

This morning, when I was preparing for work, I remembered my grandfather. He was now 82 yrs old and was blinded due to severe cataract. Last year, I visited Gubat, Sorsogon (our province where my grandfather lives); I asked Papay (Bicol term for grand father) why he was still a happy person despite his situation. He said that he was happy because God loves him; that He allows suffering to happen in his life. I told him I do not understand. Papay shared to me the following arguments I will never forget:

A. That this life is temporary. We are not yet home. Our home is in heaven that’s why we feel pain and suffering on this earth. It is on our home that we feel security, peace and joy that is everlasting.

B. That he has lost his eyesight but he has his other body parts that still works well- his hearing, sense of touch and memory were still working great! It’s just like about the attitude: how we will look a glass- half empty or half filled- is really up to us. The blessings are just around. It depends on how we appreciate them.

2. A LAY MINISTER WHOSE WIFE DIED WITH CANCER

Our high school valedictorian’s parents are active servants of the Catholic Church. During the wake of John Quiring’s mom, his father who was a lay minister that time, gave the one of the most inspiring speeches I ever heard. He said that his family was comforted about Mrs. Racquel’s death. They all knew that their loved one was already with the Lord and continuously guiding them. That God loves her so much that He wants to be with her in the home called heaven.

3. I SUFFERED MINOR CASE OF TUBERCULOSIS

Last year, I was diagnosed with minor case of tuberculosis. I never smoke. I live a healthy lifestyle but I still caught up the ailment. I asked my doctor how I was able to acquire it. He said, it is caused by my exposure to environment or people who have this. So, I have my parents x-rayed as well (they were negative, thank God). I took six months of treatment and now, I am totally healed without any mark of the scars on my lungs.

What I learned from the experience is that, I was blessed because I am surrounded with caring and loving people; they never discriminated me and I never felt I was sick then.

4. AN EMAIL ABOUT JESUS

Last February 22, 2011, I received a forwarded email about Jesus that was written:

“If you never felt pain, then how would you know that I am a Healer?

If you never had to pray, How would you know that I am a Deliverer?

If you never had a trial, how could you call yourself an overcomer?

If you never felt sadness, How would you know that I am a Comforter?

If you never made a mistake, How would you know that I am a forgiver?

If you knew all, How would you know that I will answer your questions?

If you never were in trouble, How would you know that I will come to your rescue?

If you never were broken, Then how would you know that I can make you whole?

If you never had a problem,How would you know that I can solve them?

If you never had any suffering, Then how would you know what I went through? 

If you never went through the fire, Then how would you become pure?

If I gave you all things, How would you appreciate them?

If I never corrected you, How would you know that I love you?

If you had all power, Then how would you learn to depend on me?

If your life was perfect, Then what would you need me for?

Love, Jesus.”

In this email, I was reminded how can we understand what Jesus went through when we will not also experience suffering?

5. AN ENCOUNTER WITH GOD RETREAT EXPERIENCE LAST FEBRUARY 24-26, 2011

During our Encounter with God Retreat last month, participants watched video how Jesus was brutally treated before his crucifixion. I cried while watching because I can feel the pain and His suffering.

That time I thought, why people would be so cruel to Jesus when He did good things for them- he healed them and shared them the good news.

That Jesus don’t deserve such maltreatment. He was God but because of His obedience to His Father and humility, instead of questioning His Father why he endures suffering, He instead prayed to forgive people since they do not know what they are doing.

Jesus was so humble that despite being the Son of God, He lets His Father’s will done.

Today, I learned that we should be just like Christ. Humble and obedient. That despite being wise and have everything any one can hope for, we should remain the virtue of humility. I have friends who were once atheists but because they learned to be humble, they now appreciate salvation through Christ’s.

6. THE VALUE OF DISCIPLESHIP AND PRAYER

It was written:

“In their case, the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” – 2 Corinthians 4:4

As Christians, we should share to others the value of salvation. We do not want ourselves to be saved only. Of course, we want our loved ones to experience also the greatness and goodness of our God. We were blessed because the Holy Spirit is within us but we have the responsibility to share it with others.

For unbelievers, let us not persecute them. Instead, we should pray for their enlightenment. I believe God works in us in His own mysterious ways. That when we pray from our heart, He gives answer to it.

Sometimes, we think God does not care about us- we did not know that the blessings were just around, we just fail to see it.

GOING BACK TO THE COMMENT THREAD

I like Hoefler posted in the comment thread; he written:

“I understand you don’t believe that there is God. May I ask why? Did u try to read the Bible? I know u don’t believe that there is God so I expect u to say ” u did not read the Bible”. But if you try to read the Bible especially in Matthew 24: 1-51 and read as well the Revelation the whole book and try to look on what had happen around the world. U will know why we believe that there is God. U might say that the Bible is written by human only but those man who wrote the Bible they were inspired by the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit, the Son Jesus Christ and God the Father is ONE. If God does not exist how this people (writer of the Bible) know what will happen in the future, mind you the Bible was written long,long before this things happen. May the Lord touch your heart and gives you the wisdom and understanding of the Holy Spirit so may you understand why God has to let this things happen to humanity. It’s because of our sinful nature and only by His grace we can reconcile with Him. God bless you.”

Hoefler is right. If we have questions to God, we must pray to Him and read His Words through the Bible.

My grandfather never read the book Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren; he did not hear any pastors’ talking about our life’s purpose, but Papay has the same wisdom these people have. He learned the same by reading the Bible during his young age. Papay may be suffering from his old age and blindness but because of what He has learned through reading the Bible his faith has grown deep- the main reason why he never question, “why a loving God would allow sufferings or bad things to happen to good people?” Instead, he provided me the answer, enlightened me and shared to me the wonderful good news about God’s goodness.

PRAYER:

Thank you for our suffering that builds our character; for problems that make us wiser, stronger and better person; for challenges that let us know who are our true friends in times of dire needs; and for sickness that reminds us to take good care of our body more.

Thank you for Your gift of salvation through Christ’s suffering- He died for us so that we may be saved from our sins. And thank you for the wisdom coming from people around us and from our own experiences that taught us about things that You want us to learn in response to our prayers.

Today, all the honor and glory we give to You. Let all Your will be done, always. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Comments
  1. Hi Joanne,

    Like Nicholas Wolterstorff, in his book Lament for a Son, I can only respond to the question you posed with a realization that I do not know the answer. So in faith I live the question. The logical problem of evil and suffering cannot be deductively be solved, rather it is dissolved in the existential narrative of discipleship.

    Because at the heart of the central events of the Biblical story, the crucifixion and the resurrection, is the redemptive love of God. Death will be overcome and new life will become reality. God’s promise will be fulfilled. A new heaven and a new earth await those who know Jesus Christ. God frees us from the fetters that bind the present to the new future. Christ’s solidarity with the victims of evil is their liberation.

    Karl Barth in one of his often quoted statements exclaims that: “To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world!” Thus a valid response to your question can also be found in struggle – the struggle of taking God’s side against the world’s disorder, and of refusing to treat evil as an acceptable part of a larger harmonious vision.

    For the Christian this is a call to stand in solidarity with the oppressed and to be awaken to the reality of the call to become salt and light in this troubled world –to bear witness to Christ in both word and deed.

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