Why is there suffering?

Our buddy Paul Snatchko had great and insightful words yesterday. So a wave o’ the cap over to him.

Considering the tragedy that has taken place in Haiti, the final verse of the Psalm at Mass today stings:

“Why do you hide your face,
forgetting our woe and our oppression?
For our souls are bowed down to the dust,
our bodies are pressed to the earth.”

Why?

It’s the question of the day.

Why does God permit the earth to rumble beneath us?

Why did God permit the earth to move under Haiti, the poorest nation in the Americas?

And, frankly, the most truthful answer is that we simply do not know.

I believe in an all-powerful God. I do not know his will. I do not know why he permits his creation to suffer.

Lord, why do your pilgrim people face so many obstacles along the journey?

But, this I do know: no purpose is served by claiming that natural disasters are the reaction of a vengeful God. No purpose is served by asserting that our Creator singles out certain peoples for punishment because of the supposed deeds of their ancestors.

That indeed is a question that has no answer, much as Karl Rahner would say that God Himself is that same unanswerable question.

Why God permits such suffering in the world is indeed the big question that plagues us and has for centuries, perhaps for all time. This Sunday we will talk about the wedding feast at Cana–the first of Jesus’ signs. And while some think that this may be a negative sign of God’s wrath, I cannot allow myself to think that God would serve such a purpose.

Life is messy and nobody knows that better than Jesus. He knows of our suffering and he experienced it. Our God of suffering lives today amongst the families and friends who mourn all those who have passed. May we be bold enough to allow ourselves to suffer with the Haitian people, to feel their pain and to transform that pain into redemption–even in some small way.

We love the Haitian people and feel for their needs. The bigger question than “Why does God allow such tragedy to happen?” should be even more obvious to us. I think God asks us the same question:

Why do YOU allow such suffering to happen?

When radio hosts say that we’ve already paid for the Haitian relief with our taxes, we should start asking if we are all really committed to the human condition. And more importantly, what are we going to do about it?

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