Suffering

Dear Fr John,

I find it disappointing to have you raise that question yet again “Why does God allow suffering?” All my life I’ve heard people grumble like that – and now you.

Isn’t it obvious that it isn’t God? Most of the suffering you can point at is caused by people – wars, revolutions, dictators, greed, lust for power, ambitions, terrible accidents, strikes and tensions, spite, jealousy, envy, gossip. Blame the people, not God.

Sickness is often self-inflicted: people’s life styles, foolishness, addictions, greed, etc. Further, sicknesses are the consequences of our being living organisms, some weaker
some stronger. If we were stones we’d last a lot longer, but for what purpose? To be alive is to grow and wain. All that lives will die. That is nature. All that exists will one day fade or crumble away, but surely life is better than existence, to die rather than go on and on.

Floods, avalanches, subsidences, other natural disasters – we know where they will probably occur and to choose to live in those areas is to accept the risk. We can hardly blame God if we freely choose to live how and where we please.

The great question is why there is any life or existence at all. If there were no life there would be no problems. But if we live we shall die. We may not be grateful (to our parents)
for being alive, for how we look, for our relative strengths and weaknesses, our abilities or lack of them, but we are free not to pass on the gift of life so that we won’t be criticised or abandoned by ungrateful children, nor expect them to look after us as if that were the reason we gave them life.

But we do need each other. That is obvious. None of us can live independently. We depend on others for everything – work, food, clothing, house, travel, hospitals, sanitation and public amenities – all the details of everyday life.

Maybe that’s where God made the big mistake. If we were all self-reliant, not needing others, we would have only ourselves to blame for everything, each of us, which might be
better rather than blaming God and other people.

Blame yourself for what you don’t do, not God or other people for what they don’t do. Let criticism, like charity, begin at home and even stay there. A world in which we are totally
selfish and self-reliant – or God’s world where we are expected to look after one another. God’s world or our own selfish one.

God bless us to live and accept the truth.

(15th April 2018)