Why does God permit Suffering?

As a practicing Catholic, perhaps endowed by the gift of discernment, the whole theological problem of suffering is one that I have been obsessing over my head for as long as I can think of. It’s a problem that cuts right deep into the soul of all, faithful and non-faithful alike. We all try to make sense of all the sufferings in the world. I don’t need to get it home to my readers. You’d just need to take a look at the news. The greatest disaster that inevitably arrives in the minds of all is God allowing these sufferings to happen. Yes, we’ve uttered the greatest words of rebellion against God, as evident in the atmosphere of the contemporary world we live in: “God, if you are all good and loving, why do you let my two year old baby die? God, if you are all good and loving, why did you let Dylan Roof kill all those faithful Christians in South Carolina? God, if you are all good and loving, why do you still let ISIS do such horrible things?” Such words of rebellion are justified, evaporating into a Godless atmosphere that clouds over our society.

However intense our attitudes are towards suffering and God, we still haven’t really come up with the answer on why does God allow suffering to happen and, yet, even on the question where is God in all of these sufferings.

I suppose that in order to truly answer where is God in all the suffering, we have to see what we truly are – humbled creatures yearning for that which satisfy our deepest longings. By seeing how small we are, we’d be able to recognize that we are actually in his hands. The toughest part to swallow, though, is realizing that we are all in his hands because He’s in the process of breaking us. Yes, He constantly breaks us so He can recreate us all anew. Nothing is ever replacable unless it’s broken. You don’t buy a new window because you want to replace one that isn’t broken yet and that still looks good. The truth of life is that God is in the process of breaking us. Why? So we can recreate us anew. However, that’s not the whole picture.

Destruction is an essential part of salvation and, therefore, so are anything associated with it–death, breaking, etc. And this philosophy is no less evident on the passion of Christ who went through destruction–the destruction of God on the Cross in the face of Man, His death–so that He can bring Life to us and, therefore, anything associated with it–hope, light, joy, peace.

When Job asked the exact same question to God that we are naturally inclined now to ask Him, He responded back with more questions such as “Where art though when I laid the foundations of the earth? Where is the hiding place of darkness? Out of whose wombs do ice and frost come out?” Have you ever told light to come out and darkness reign? (Job 38:4-41) In the end, Job realized that God’s questions are far better than the answers men can ever come up about the problem of suffering.

But even then, the verse doesn’t fully answer the question what God does in the midst of all the sufferings.

God breaks us because He’s currently creating a new image of Life and all that is.

The whole point of life and suffering is that it is not meant to be approached like a problem that has a specific, scientific approach to the solution. Going all the way back to the foundations of Existence, God intended to create Life as an artist’s work. He is the Great Artist and all that exist are simply part of the big picture He created, where life and death are nothing but features of the image.

Just as critics judge the art through its details, the mysteries of life and suffering are not meant to be seen as problems to be solved. They are meant to be appreciated.

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