Monday, 11 April 2011
A friend of mine suffered the loss last month of his only brother. I clung to him because I knew his pain -- 4 years ago I lost my brother unexpectedly as well. I had attended a bereaved group for some time, but for the most part it was geared toward parents losing their children and not sibling loss. It was fine for me to be there, but I was the only sibling survivor that came to the meetings. Sibling loss is common, yet commonly forgotten.
After a few months of attendance I realized how much the bereaved in the group either rejected/questioned God, or leaned on God for understanding and hope in dealing with the loss of their child. It was interesting to see the two parallels -- people were either hot or cold, but not lukewarm about it. I find it interesting because Jesus told us not to be lukewarm about our faith.
Many of us go through trials and tribulations in our lives. Some of us suffer so much that we reject God's existence. Some of us suffer so hard that we lean on God to get through and make peace with our suffering. Sometimes we even reject God out of anger and come back to Him after we've had time to understand our suffering. Any way we go, we depend on God either to take the fall or pick us back up.
The main rejection statements people have are along the lines of:
If there was a God, He wouldn't let this happen. If God existed, why is He letting people suffer? If God is all-powerful, why doesn't He feed the starving children in the world? How is God merciful and loving if He allows this to happen to me? If God really loved me, my life wouldn't be this bad.
We tell people when they are suffering and need God's help to pray -- to talk to the Big Man Upstairs and He will fix everything. Unfortunately, that's not entirely true in the way we want it to be. We already know what we want to be fixed and how we want it fixed, but that's not necessarily God's solution. We cannot ask God to save our friend's life and expect Him to do it. He hears us, but His plans may differ from our desires and He may answer our prayers in a way we might not always like.
If God answered every single prayer at its face value, we'd have no reason to keep the faith sincerely and work for anything in our lives. We would manipulate God's graciousness if He gave us everything we wanted. Occasionally we all suffer and we want to answer why -- we want someone or something to blame. Sometimes bad things happen to good people just like good things happen to bad people; it doesn't mean there isn't a God just because life sucks sometimes.
There's a lot of argument as to why bad things happen in God's world. Some people believe it's due to the sins we all commit ourselves -- "Christian karma," if you will. Some people think it's because God put us here and let us go our own sinful and evil ways, and punishes us because of our predecessors' bad choices. Both of these schools of thought are different ways of thinking under the umbrella of free will. If God were to control everything there would be no free will, and to expect Him to would mean we'd be willing to sacrifice our choices in life.
People don't remember that in the beginning, God created a world without suffering and pain and gave us all free will to do as we please. In return He asked only for some obedience. Well, as humans who hate being told what to do, of course we turned our back on obeying God's law, and God being an entity of justice, brought suffering as punishment for our sins.
Any Christian strong in their faith knows God exists through the good and bad things, and will tell anyone that God gives us blessings along with trials. It is the weak in faith who reject God when things don't go the way they want it. God isn't here to fulfill our every desire. Sometimes we don't realize that our desires and our needs are very different. I didn't desire a lot in my life but I appreciate what my life has been for who it made me become today. We don't grow without some work and pain; not all pain is bad. It's important to know that it isn't always God's doing when we suffer, but rather our own doing.