Does God allow human suffering?
Fr. Shay Cullen
The children were all gathered in the center for street children near the Manila Cathedral when the Pope just finished a mass during which he challenged bishops and priests to be true pastors and imitate Christ and serve the poor.
He went into the home where he greeted children as he did at his meeting of the children and youth at the University of Santo Thomas. During his meeting with the families at the Mall of Asia he repeated one important message ‘protect your children”. He is the Pope that has Zero tolerance for any child abuser especially clergy.
The one striking question that arose during his meeting the children and youth at the University was when a 11 year old child broke down in tears while reading a welcome message and asked the Pope Why God allows children to suffer and so few people are helping them”. That a question I have asked God many times myself and my faith was challenged when I got no clear answer.
I look on all the thousands of street kids, the children in brothels and sex bars, those in jails and jeopardy from disease and malnutrition and abuse and ponder human nature and ask why it is so when the world has never been as rich and better off than every in history.
Pope Francis had no answer either; he did not try to mumble some incomprehensible theological mumbo jumbo to explain away the tough question that troubles reflective Christians everywhere.
He replied; She is the only one who has put a question for which there is no answer and she wasn’t even able to express it in words, but in tears”.
But looking for answers to the abuse, hardship, and poverty that causes hundreds of thousands of children to suffer is my constant quest.
I believe that God does not allow anybody to suffer.
St. John’s says in his Gospel that God is love, meaning that pure spiritual love, is the force and power of eternal goodness. That excludes totally any possibility of such love allowing or tolerating suffering. If it were it would be an absurd contradiction.
Humans are invited and challenged to try to have love that is a way of being in oneself that is selfless, kind, understanding and caring of others. It is the love that is ready to lay down life itself for the love of a friend and humanity.
It is based on sharing , self-giving and putting aside one’s desires for self gratification, power, unnecessary wealth and surplus possessions. It is a kind of love that cannot be experienced when we have an excess of material things and possessions.
That great happiness is indescribable it has to be experienced and be felt and understood in some small way. Its being in contact with ‘eternal goodness and love”. It’s the doorway to being in and of the Kingdom.
Saint Francis and many others to the present day have found pure joy and happiness when they were able to cast off or give away unnecessary self-serving possessions and embrace a life of serving and helping others. For many it may mean giving up a self-image of being a superior human person that is more powerfully dominant and influential that most others. That’s a delusion; we can be the slave of money and possessions and weakened by our desire for it.
Money is a mere material thing, it can have power over us and subjugate our true self and stifle our goodness and our ability to love others. So the saying ‘all the money in the world cant buy happiness”, is partially true. It’s possession may not buy spiritual happiness for us but can bring happiness to others when it is used wisely and successfully to alleviate poverty and social injustice. If we do this we let go of “possessiveness’”, and can be free and available to be loved and embraced by eternal goodness and happiness
The suffering of humanity and children is because of the absence of this love and goodness. The disposition of material things is determined by the free choice of the individual or the group. Poverty and suffering is present when love is absent. So human suffering is made and caused mostly by other humans and is directly connected to the free choice of other humans. The answer to the child’s question lies in the hands of the rich and the powerful. firstname.lastname@example.org