Why Does God Let Us Suffer?

This is an often repeated question. If there were no purpose in life except enjoyment, then maybe God would intervene.

What is suffering anyway? We think pain and disease are the worst. Yet some healthy people live miserable lives while some terminally ill people live happily. So there must be something else besides this physical definition of suffering.

We inflict suffering on others all the time. In choosing not to recognize our shortcomings, we choose to inflict a degree of suffering on others. We create the suffering in this world, bit by bit. Physical conditions can be dealt with. The real suffering comes with human interaction.

Back to the old man, the great mother, buddha nature or tao (or whatever….). Why doesn’t he/she/it intervene? Image that this human life is just a learning experience for the soul. Things might make more sense like that. I imagining that the real point in life is to overcome as many shortcomings and reconcile with as many enemies as possible. Some suffering may be necessary to alert us to our weaknesses. So if life were plain sailing – an exercise in pleasure – there would be none of these opportunities. I don’t think life is an end in itself, because it is so full of imperfections. The worthwhile feeling that comes fromovercoming them, and the cheap ease of accepting them, hint to me that “life” as we know it is part of something more.

God loves us better by letting us exercise free will in this world and suffer the consequences so we can see what we are inside and change it. I image that after our life, we will look back only on what we have learned in this way. The pain is nothing – physical pain will be forgotten with the physical body. The real pleasure in life is in learning and growing, and the real pain in failing to accomplish this. And worse still would be realizing, too late, that we have failed.

If you’re not satisfied with this post beacuse you really think that people shouldn’t have to suffer physically while others do not, follow me just a little further.

Lets say there are two people. One is a woman dying in a car crash. Another guy, at the same moment, is on a yatch in the Bahamas with five loose women, shooting photos, and enjoying himself very much.

The woman in the car feels she has become a better person inside through the challenges of life. At this moment she is in terrible pain, but silently, above this pain, is the knowledge that life was well lived. Emotionally, she can let go.

If considering physical experience only we have to feel sorry for the woman and wonder why God has not intervened, while this other guy is having the time of his life with five women.

There, I said it, “the time of his life”. His whole life thereafter may be lived like a ghost, seeking out better and better physical situations but finding less and less satisfying ones. Slowly his body deteriorates as he fights to keep it in shape but women he desires aren’t interested. He settles for second best every time and doesn’t respect them at all, thus he hurts person after person. Gradually that is all there is. He dies in his sleep without pain, except that his life was the definition of pain.

These might be extreme examples but I hope you get what I want to say.

We can make heaven in this world, we just have to look inside a bit and be honest with ourselves. We have to treat others as if they are us, feeling the same. Me thinks.

Posted on June 19, 2008 Modified June 19, 2008