pain and suffering

The Catholic Faith Video Series: Your Tough Questions Answered [Video #12]

Question: Why does God allow bad things to happen in life? 
Please watch video below for answer:
If you prefer to read, below is Babes’ Answer:

Why does God allow bad things to happen in life? Now, let me make that personal – why does God allow bad things to happen to me, to you, to our loved ones. You know, I have asked this question twice in my life. The first time was when my 14 year old brother died, and I saw my mom fell into a deep grief and it broke my heart.

The second time was when I was working with an international development agency. I was assigned in areas where the poorest of the poor lived so during my entire working life with that agency, I was surrounded by extreme poverty. I’ve seen children die of starvation, families not able to meet their basic needs for food, shelter, safe drinking water, livelihood and education. I oftentimes cried out to God “why do you allow this to happen?

Fortunately, when I was in my thirties, God blessed me with a spiritual mentor, an Italian priest, who patiently taught me the Bible for 10 years. I asked him this question and I can never forget the first 3 words he said in response to my question. He said “I don’t know!”.

What he meant was we cannot really get a complete answer to that question because we cannot stand in God’s shoes. We don’t have His mind, we don’t see things like He does. We’re not God, He is!

This reminds me of a book about the Life of St. Catherine of Siena which was written by her confessor Blessed Raymond of Capua. There’s a part in that book where he relates a conversation that St. Catherine had with Jesus. When He first began to appear to her, he said, “Do you know, daughter, who you are, and who I am? If you know these two things, you will be blessed. You are she who is not; whereas I am He who is. Have this knowledge in you and the enemy will never deceive you…

 So our Lord told St. Catherine: “I’m God, you’re not” but sometimes we forget the last part. We naturally think that God shouldn’t have allowed certain bad things to happen because if we were God, we wouldn’t have allowed them to happen, we surely would have done things differently. But here’s the thing – we’re not God, He is!

And since, we’re not God we cannot fully understand why God allows bad things to happen in our lives but we can understand some things. So I would like to point out 3 things and I hope you will find them helpful whenever you feel like asking the question, “Why?”

The first thing I would like to point out is God does not create evil and suffering. So God didn’t create illness, injuries, abuse, crimes and all other bad stuff that happen in life and in the world. So if God does not create the bad stuff, where does it come from?

The answer lies in what can be both a blessing and a curse and that is our capacity to make choices. God has given us a free will, the freedom to decide how we will act and the ability to make moral choices. This is one thing that distinguishes us from animals, but it also is the source of so much pain and suffering in our world. While we are all capable of doing good, we are also capable of making selfish, self-centered or even evil choices. Whenever that happens, others, not just ourselves, get hurt.

God could have eliminated all evil from our world by simply removing our ability to choose. He could have made us like robots and make us do things by pushing a button or saying specific commands. But he doesn’t want us to be robots. He wants us to love and to be loved freely. He wants us to freely choose to love him and each other. But sadly, in a world of free choices, God’s will is seldom done! Doing our own will is much more common—much easier.

The second thing that I want to point out is God can turn our crucifixion to resurrection, our good Friday to easter. So He can take the bad things that are happening to us and cause good to come out of them, if we love and trust Him.

As Paul said in Romans 8:28 and I quote – We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” So if you choose to love God, He can and will use your pain and suffering to make you a better version of yourself, to bring you closer to Him, or to have a positive impact on other people’s lives.

That’s why it’s so important to think with a long term perspective instead of a short term. If a seemingly bad thing is happening to you right now and you’re discouraged, frustrated or feeling hopeless, it is because you’re thinking on the short term. But if you will think long term and see through the eyes of faith, you will find later on that out of your pain, an awesome blessing came out. So I encourage you to always always think long term, think 5 years, 10 years, 20 years down the road and keep your faith, continue to trust the God who loves you and I’m sure later on, when you reflect on the bad experiences you have gone through and connect the dots and see where God has brought you, you will find you’re in a much much better place.

The third and the final thing I want to point out is related to the previous or second one. Let me tell you a true story to illustrate my point. I actually read this story about a year ago and it just struck me so I made a note of it.

There’s a young man, he’s only 17 years old who unfortunately fell down a flight of stairs when he was a baby and this fall broke his back. So consequently, he was in and out of the hospital all his life and yet he made a comment when he was being interviewed that he thinks God is fair. So the interviewer asked him how many years has it been since he was in and out of hospitals and he said 13 years. So astonished, the interviewer asked him, “And you think that is fair?”. The young man replied: “Well, God has all eternity to make it up to me.”

You know, one of my favorite songs in CBW III, our hymn book at church, starts with the words: “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, what God has ready for those who love him”. These words were taken from Paul’s 1 Corinthians 2:9. And I will end this video with those words. Allow them to go deep into your heart.

So when you are inclined to ask Why God allows bad things to happen in life, remember that He does not create these bad things, and He can cause good things and incredible blessings to emerge out of these not so cool stuff that happen in life and that from a long term perspective, all these bad things that God allow people to go through, they pale in comparison to what He has prepared for those who love Him.

Continue Reading