Subject: r.e. Haiti
Well, that’s a bit of problem for me there too. You say that God is not indifferent to our suffering yet because He has created a free world that allows for each of us to make choices in freedom to choose to believe in him or not, to follow him or not, to love him or not, He must keep his distance when it comes to human suffering. That’s almost like someone saying, “I feel your pain,” and then not doing anything to help. Where does that leave the one who is suffering? It makes God seem so distant and almost impotent ….
Subject: r.e. Haiti
Do you remember back at the beginning of our email exchange where I wrote that “God does not speak to his children directly but instead chooses to use normal natural means of communication: Scripture, the Church, other people, etc.” The same is true for the manner in which God acts within creation. While He does not do so directly, He certainly does so through the actions of people who freely choose to act in that way. Look at what is going on in Haiti right now. People and governments from all over the world have chosen to help. Food and water and medicine and supplies are pouring into that country. Volunteers and workers are arriving every day to help rebuild what was destroyed. Why just in your parish a few weeks ago you raised over $12,000 in a second collection for Haiti. Why are people doing this? They don’t have to. Does what happens in Haiti really effect the day to day life of a man or woman in Westwood or anywhere else in the world? Not a lot. Yet, people have chosen to help. This is not simply a matter of faith either, something like well, people who are religious, be they Christian or Jewish or other faiths are supposed to act this way. People see the destruction and misery in Haiti and they want to help, they want to do something. Could there be something more going on here than meets the eye? Could not God in creating man and woman in his own image have included as part of that image the same loving and compassionate nature that is the very core of his being? Could it not be this very innate nature that is now at work here in Haiti and any other time that people respond in this way?
And, of course, this is where the person of Jesus Christ brings the full answer to your question about God seeming to be so distant and apart from human suffering. God, in choosing to become man, “Emmanuel – God is with us,” out of love for humanity, gave his Son so that the wound of sin caused by your disobedience may be healed. It was through that sin that suffering and death entered the world. It was through God’s gift of his Son that salvation from this death came to mankind. Jesus, in becoming human like you became the means by which all of creation has been healed. And, Jesus suffered and died as a man like you. How can one say, then, that God is distant from human suffering? If He in his Son Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, knew suffering and death, God knew suffering and death. But God did not leave it there because God through his Son also restored life.
Subject: r.e Haiti
Thank you, Gabriel, for the help. I guess all of this is a reminder to me of what God has given us in his Son Jesus Christ but also in the community of his Church. I think that the mystery of human suffering – a ‘mystery’ because at the end of it, no answer is complete as to the question of ‘why?’ – reminds me that our ultimate happiness rests not in this world but in the next. Each of us needs to live our lives in Christ so as to someday be found worthy of that salvation. So, while I may not be able to answer completely the ‘why’ question in response to suffering, I can certainly answer the ‘how’ question.