Three Spiritual Conundrums have been submitted to Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life on a similar theme. First, from a reader named Tom:
I understand the concept of free will and that we were all given the ability to make choices. So while murders, war, rape, etc. are horrible, they are the result of our own free will. My question is, how do we deal with random bad events/illness happening to good people. I recently read about a 24 year old Christian man who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that eventually took his life a year later. He left behind a wife and young daughter. It is hard for me to comprehend why this man couldn’t be saved or why he was stricken with this in the first place.
Then a reader named Grace wrote:
I just read your article “If God is Love, Why all the Pain and Suffering?”
I have asked myself those same questions and I appreciate your explaination. I understand what you are saying in those regards, but what about when people die not due to the sin of someone else? For example, a child (or adult) that passes because of Cancer? Or someone dies in a horrific car accident? What makes God decide that it is that persons time?
And Tom wrote more about his struggles with this issue:
I haven’t written in a while but have still been following your blog. I feel like I am losing my faith and I don’t know how to get it back. You already know I lost my parents and this past week a friend of mine passed. He was only 42 and died suddenly leaving behind a wife and three kids. I can’t reconcile how that could happen. It has made me question a lot more than I would like to admit. I have been going through a sort of existential dilemma filled with a lot of existential anxiety. How can one find the strength inside and in God to somehow see the good in these bad human experiences? Thanks.
Thanks, Tom and Grace, for opening up your hearts to ask these terrible, wrenching questions.
I wish I could say something simple to make it all better. I wish I could answer the question of why these tragedies happened to your friends and family. But the truth is, I can’t. These are questions that each of us must face within the depths of our own soul. And real answers come only with time and deep reflection.
It’s not that there aren’t any answers. It’s that satisfying answers come to us only through our own struggles with life, with God, and with our own mind and heart. These questions strike at the core of who we are as human beings. They touch the heart of our faith and our relationship with God.
I can’t tell you why particular people are maimed or killed in tragic circumstances. What I can do is offer some new perspectives that may help in the struggle for answers to these difficult and painful questions.
We’ll start by looking more closely at the experience of having our faith tested. It may not be easy reading, but these are not easy issues. If we’re going to find any real answers, we must dig deep. So please bear with me if some of what must be said temporarily adds to the pain. Like setting a dislocated shoulder or removing shrapnel from a wound, often we must endure further pain to get ourselves on a path toward spiritual and emotional healing.
If you can follow along on this journey with me, I’ll then offer some thoughts and ideas that may help as you struggle to understand why tragedies such as diseases, accidents, and natural disasters happen to innocent, undeserving people.
Dealing with these big questions is going to take some time. There are plenty of superficial, pat answers out there. Finding real answers requires changing our perspective on the universe and on human society. That will require us to traverse some territory that may at first seem unlikely or even impossible. All I ask is that you read and consider carefully what I have to say.
So let’s dig into it.
For more on when bad things happen to good people, please click here to read on.