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  • Writer's pictureEve Was Right

Why Does God Let Us Suffer?

Updated: Apr 8

Why do bad things happen to good people?


I find the “What Would Jesus Do?” paraphernalia so funny.


You know how a word loses all meaning when you read it over and over? I imagine the same thing happens with the WWJD stuff. For a moral question to stick, it seems like it needs to come from inside your head, not a piece of string on your wrist.


I understand the intention of the bracelets, rings, and bumper stickers. They try to get you to ask yourself, “Am I being a good enough person? Am I turning enough of a cheek?” One day, I’ll write a post on the harm caused by teaching people, especially women, to be passive in the face of injustice.


That’s a story for another time, though. In the past few years, I’ve embraced the question of “What Would God Do?” from a different vantage point.


We absolutely need to ask ourselves what God would do (for the record, the God I’m referring to now is the Jewish God.) More importantly, we need to ask ourselves the question, "If we were God, what would we do?"


More importantly, we need to ask ourselves the question, “If we were God, what would we do?”

Because this is the biggest beef humans have with God.


It also happens to be the only way we can even begin to understand the answers to the most painful questions about our existence and God.


Why does He let bad things happen to good people? Why does He allow tragedy to happen? Why are so many things in this world completely, unfathomably unfair?


The one thing all of our religious books have in common is their unshakeable belief in our inability to understand God. We can’t understand His actions or nature; we are just gnats under the giant boot of God’s greatness. Tremble all ye.


Why not? From what I’ve seen, there’s nothing particularly incomprehensible about God, and I’ve done my fair share of studying God’s word. Finding possible explanations for God’s behavior requires a bit of creative thinking, but the explanations can certainly be found.


We’re told we were made from God’s own image. Let’s put aside the religious component of the statement for a second. Logically, if we are not alone in the universe, and if other planets and civilizations exist alongside Earth, then human nature is analogous to universal nature.


I highly doubt a civilization exists who is utterly unacquainted with love, compassion, anger, jealousy, or fear. These things are likely a necessary byproduct of sentience.


Assuming this is true, then we have to imagine God as an infinitely turbo-charged version of human nature, someone who is aware of all the pitfalls of our nature but also able to rise above them. Once we adopt this mindset, working through the answers to our questions becomes much more attainable.


Let’s tackle the most difficult, painful question as an example. "Why does God allow the conditions for bad things to happen to good people?"


“Why does God allow the conditions for bad things to happen to good people?”

This is distinct from the more common, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” The latter question can be explained in various ways, for example, through reincarnation and karma.


Before we go on, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the deep pain caused by the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Like most of the people reading this, I personally have been through an immense amount of trauma in my life. I’m telling you this because I’m not coming at the subject from a lens of spiritual detachment. It took a long time for me to work through my anger and to see the cosmic reasons behind the trauma I experienced. My understanding of the reasons behind the pain does not diminish my recognition of its vastness.


This leads to our question: Why did God introduce the conditions for such profound injustice to be possible in the first place?


Why did God introduce the conditions for such profound injustice to be possible in the first place?

In my post Origin Story I hint at the answer, but I’ll expand on it here.


I used to be irate at God because of this question. There was just one problem ~ I was also religious. I could no more stop believing in Judaism than I could stop breathing. I had no option but to work through it.


One day, I went on a 12-mile hike alone: no playlist, no distractions, and nothing to occupy my mind except for this single question.


Oh boy, was I mad. I spent six of the twelve miles cranky, just really angry and raging at God. I had just read the part in the Bible where Noah cursed his sons, which is the moment when Jews believe racism entered the world. The idea!


Many of the miles passed uselessly, with me lost in my anger. Then, around mile seven, the quiet question floated up in my mind - “Well, what would you have done?”


I forced myself to think about it. During my thinking, I ran straight into the thick brick wall of free will.

Meme of Captain Picard as God saying "I was just trying to help"

 

If I were God and had created a world, I’d need to give them free will. Otherwise, they’d just be idiot babies, bumbling around a garden forever. That isn’t fun for anyone.


I would have to give them free will, but I’d also know introducing free will would be the equivalent of dropping a social nuclear bomb onto their brains. So much carnage would ensue. But eventually, after they had worked through the carnage, they’d find freedom. Or at least they’d find the first layer of freedom, and it’d be up to them to uncover the second, third, and so on.


Because my nature would be human nature, and human nature is universal nature, I’d know the pitfalls they were most likely to encounter in their first growth stage as a free society. And I’d want to get them through it as quickly as possible. To help them hurry the process along, I’d introduce these terrible things all at once.


 

You’d rather have 5,000 years of pure Hell than 35,000 years of 80% Hell, right? I certainly would.


It’s an unsentimental kind of empathy, but I have a feeling the universe is an unsentimental place.


None of the studying or research I’d done up to this point had helped me nearly as much as the simple human logic nestled in the blasphemous question, “If I were God, what would I have done?”


We need to start ignoring our religious leaders when they tell us there’s no way for us to understand or know God. Our wisdom expands exponentially once we dare to ask ourselves the question, “Well… let’s assume God is understandable. Why did He do things this way?”


Let’s keep pulling down these pedestals and curtains. They serve us no good. They force us into smaller boxes than we’re destined for. In fact, let’s throw away the boxes altogether. We don’t need them anymore.

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