“Either God does not exist, or he is unimaginably cruel.”
– Dr. House
In a fight with an atheist, a Christian can throw a lot of jabs and punches with proofs for the existence of God. However, when a Christian has the atheist on the ropes, the atheist comes with a Mayweather right hook and it seems to always knock out the Jesus freak. What is this power punch? Suffering. “If God is good and loves his children, why do good people suffer?” Bam! 7,8,9,10 The HeavyWeight champion of Religion is…Bill Maher! If suffering didn’t exist, Bill Maher would probably be doing nightly infomercials. Yet with such an argument to knock out opponents, he’s making millions on HBO. How can a God-fearer stand up to the Goliath of arguments? Is there a stone that will fly high enough to knock out this Andre the Giant?
The All Powerful Me
The reason this argument has such weight is that when we hear it, we immediately place ourselves on the omnipotent throne and think: “what would my omnibenevolent self do? I would take away suffering and give a billion dollars to everyone! And 2 billion especially for the cuties.” God’s answer doesn’t seem to match our answer, and we think we are omniscient, therefore a good God can’t exist. Yet, Scripture says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).”
If God’s answer and actions are a lot different than yours, that should be the first sign that you are heading down the yellow brick road with Toto. Watch Interstellar, contemplate the theory of relativity, and read Hawking. Then ask yourself if this Being, who is capable of such immense wonder in the physical universe, might be just a bit smarter than your “glued noodles 5th grade science project” self?
If God exists, HE BETTER BE SMARTER THAN ME!
By the way, with the current condition of the human heart, here is what most people would look like if we sat on the Alpha and Omega throne and instituted our plan.
(Floyd Mayweather sitting on his “Throne.” He proclaims himself “The Best Ever.”)
Thank God you’re NOT God!
The Stone of Job
My aunt was scared to read the book of Job, because she thought if she read it, bad things would start happening to her. Let’s face it, suffering is scary stuff. I would rather read the love poems of Song of Songs, but if you fail to explore Job you are missing one of the greatest plays known to man. Job is not a book, its a play. That is why it is so taxing to read. It’s like listening to a girls group therapy session. Three dudes talk this much? By chapter 14 most guys would have been passed out on the couch with a game on.
The main crux of the play is why a righteous man like Job has to suffer. Feel like you can relate? We can see why people like Hitler should have to suffer. “But God I go to church every week, now give me my blessings!” However, this play helps the reader understand hidden realities behind a righteous man suffering. Why do we want to be in relationship with God? Because you listened to Pastor Money Bags infomercial and he says if you give him 10% of your money you will be rollin’ in the root of all evil?
Really??? If this is Christianity sign me up to be a Bill Maher groupie.
Job does everything right, and everything goes wrong. Job gives God 10% of his money and God gives Job bankruptcy. Why? This is where the play gets juicy. The play gives you a spiritual telescope to see into another dimension of life. God shows Satan Job, who loves God, but Satan has an answer to this supposed love. “Does Job fear God for nothing?…You have blessed the works of his hands, and his possessions…Put forth your hand now …and he will curse you to your face (Job 1:6-22).” Satan is saying Job is a Gold-Digger. Satan says Job doesn’t love God for God’s sake, but Job loves God’s trust fund.
And now the battle is on. Does Job ultimately want God or God’s bling? Satan kills all his servants, his livestock (his money), his camels (his BMWs and Land Rovers), and all his children. This is where Pastor Private Jet would curse God, but “Job arose…and worshiped…Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return…blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Now that is loving God. Suffering is where a Christian gets to show the world what is secretly upon his or her heart. An early Catholic Bishop, St. Ignatius of Antioch, pleaded with his congregation not to stop him from being killed by lions in the Roman Coliseum. The reason? He couldn’t wait to show the world God was his “all in all (Ephesians 1:23).” If you want a Sugar-Daddy, this is probably not the faith for you. But if you want a love affair with Love itself and you are willing to give up everything for the sake of Love, you have found a home.
The Boulder of the Cross
Forget a stone and a sling. Use a boulder! Why does God allow good people to suffer? God gives Christians a new answer in addition to the story of Job. When one asks that question, all he has to do is look at the major symbol of Christianity…The Crucifix. Catholics literally wear around their neck God hanging, beaten and naked on the most feared of ancient instruments of torture. The person hanging on that cross is not only a good person but GOODNESS ITSELF.
Our question loses its power when we contemplate this:
Why did Goodness Itself choose to suffer? Because suffering has the power to prove REAL LOVE exists! Not selfish, I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine love, but love which seeks to affirm the other’s goodness despite the personal hardships. God on the Cross shows us He is not a Deity up in heaven, riding high on his heavenly hog commanding his lowly servants below on earth. God is “Abba! Father! (Galatians 4:6),” who became the lowliest of his creatures to show his children He views us not with ulterior motives, but as His motive.
God came and turned suffering on its head. When we suffer it usually takes us away from things like money, pleasure, fame and power. Yet this is precisely why suffering is so important. We all are prone to worship false idols. We usually view money, power, pleasure and fame as our beautiful pagan goddesses, for whom we sacrifice everything. When we suffer, these “goddesses” leave us like a “seductress in the night (Proverbs 7:5, 9)” and we are given the greatest opportunity of our lives. Unite our heart to the only thing that really satisfies… “Abba! Father!” A God who could have had anything and everything someone would ever want in this life, yet chose poverty, nakedness, and crucifixion as his lot, to make sure that you knew you were his only treasure!
How could a good God let us suffer? With God’s answer to how much He loves us, the new question should be how could a good God NOT let us suffer for him.
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
― Kahlil Gibran“
Suffering is nothing by itself. But suffering shared with the passion of Christ is a wonderful gift, the most beautiful gift, a token of love.”
― Mother Teresa
“Compassion is something I have a lot of, because I’ve been through a lot of pain in my life. Anybody who has suffered a lot of pain has a lot of compassion.”
― Johnny Cash
By: Jacob King, Associate Director of Mountaineer Catholic