Why do innocent people suffer and suffer and suffer…Where is God in all this! Why can’t He hear and DO something if He’s so great. Good question! Read a book years ago called “Out of the Night:the Spiritual Journey of Vietnam Vets” by William Mahedy. It dealt with the question of evil from the perspective of “where was God in Vietnam?” But his point applies all over the place, and wherever you want to put your finger on a globe and ask what God’s doing about the genocides and starvation and poverty your finger could land on. The book of Job is 42 chapters. A lot of it is Job and his friends having a dialogue about what’s going on in his life and why things are going really really badly. The last four chapters, God answers Job’s question of why–and the answer sucks for a lot of us. He never got any answer, except “I’m God, you’re not. Live with it.” (Oops, my cynicism is showing, but read it yourself and see what you think).
I spend a lot of time asking the wrong question, I guess. The question isn’t “why is there suffering….” The better question, is “What can I do to help those who are suffering and stand beside them, and be the hands and feet of Christ?”
Years ago, watching a friend experience disaster and loss beyond comprehension, my naiveness got flushed and I confronted evil for the first time as an adult. Not for the last time….but in thinking about why the innocent suffer, this poem was written.
Do You know the answers
To the questions my heart screams for?
Is all this destruction in Your plan?
When innocent people hurt and grieve,
How can my broken heart believe!
I bring my angry doubting
As an offering to You.
When disasters crush the poor,
Whose weary hearts cry,
“Lord, no more!”
Why do You wait and seem to look away?
Please help me, God, to You I cry.
I just can’t help but question why.
I’ve seen too much to ever understand!
They say You know the end
From the beginning;
That You know what is in
The heart of man.
That by a Word, You made it all —
So on that hope I call.
Upon my face, I cry out unto You!
I’m angry, Lord —
But still I’m asking You.
I’m crushed inside,
But what else can I do?
I need the Words of Life
No one else has to give.
I need the peace they tell me
Comes from You.
Though I grieve,
Help me believe.
Though You slay me,
I will put my trust in You.
PS.. The Other thing about Job…..
Job had “friends” who came and sat in the ashes with him in silence for seven days and seven nights, shared his sorrow and kept their mouths shut, seeing how great his suffering was (Job 2:13). After that, though, they offered enough words and explanations to choke on trying to explain why misfortune, disaster and heart ripping loss had come to him. In the end, basically, God told them to shut up. In all the answers they thought they had, and all the judgments they wanted to put on their friend, they missed the point. God is God, they were not, and we/they don’t always (ever?) get to understand why bad things happen to good people (or anyone else). Everyone is elgible.
This story hits me two ways: It makes me very cautious about venturing into the arena of offering words to the public sphere, very aware that I can learn more by listening than talking, and that I don’t have easy, quick answers to the hard questions. It also makes me want to DO something, and not just talk about it! I think it was St. Francis who said, “Preach the gospel, if necessary, use words.” I like that. Means there’s room for quiet people and introverts to still serve in ways that matter.