Prayer through suffering
The problem of suffering
Some of you like problems in maths that make you think and some of you may not be so keen on them!· All of these problems have an answer.· But there is one problem which is more difficult than any of them, the problem of why God allows suffering.· Why does he allow cruelty and war?
One reason is that he insists on our being real human beings with the freedom to choose good and evil. He will not turn us into robots so that we could only do what he told us to. So the real question is, not “Why does God allow the human race to do wrong and cause suffering?” but, “Why did he make the human race at all?” Well, God thought it was worth making us to share his life in Heaven in spite of all the sorrow and suffering that would result, and so we must leave it at that.
Sometimes suffering is caused by human wickedness, and sometimes by accidents or disease. It can be a punishment brought by people on themselves. For example, a gang of men may hold up a jeweller’s shop and steal several trays of rings and drive away in a stolen car, only to have a smash-up in escaping from the police. And if they are badly injured, it is entirely their own fault. On the other hand, their car, when it crashes, may injure a passer-by, someone who had nothing to do with the hold-up at all. It is true that God can bring good out of evil, and as a result of the accident that person may be brought to want God and so to love him. On the other hand, the passer-by may be a very holy man or woman.
So too with disease. In a hospital ward there may be all sorts, good and bad, but all are suffering.
Some people say that the suffering in the world shows that God either cannot end it or will not end it. If he cannot do it, they say, he is not all-powerful; and he will not end it, he is not all-good. But there is something they forget, and that is that God himself has shared our suffering on the Cross. And we remember that every time we say the Creed – “He suffered…” And that is the most important thing of all. Whatever the answer to the problem of suffering may be, it ceases to be a problem once we know that human beings do not suffer alone, because God also has suffered with them and suffered for them.