Does God allow human suffering?

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The children were all gathered in the ‘center for street children’ near the Manila Cathedral when the Pope just finished a mass, during which he challenged bishops and priests to be true pastors and imitate Christ and serve the poor.

He went into their homes where he greeted children as he did at his meeting with the children and youth at the University of Santo Tomas. During his meeting with families at the Mall of Asia, he repeated one important message: “protect your children.” He is the Pope that has zero tolerance for any child abuser, especially among the clergy.

The one striking question that arose during his meeting with the children and youth at the University was when an 11-year old broke down in tears while reading a welcome message and asked the Pope, “Why does God allow children to suffer and so few people are helping them?” That’s a question I have asked God many times myself and my faith was challenged when I got no clear answer.

I look on all the thousands of street kids, the children in brothels and sex bars, those in jails and in jeopardy from disease and malnutrition and abuse, and ponder human nature, and ask why it is still so when the world has never been as rich and better off than ever in history.


Pope Francis had no answer either; he did not try to mumble some incomprehensible theological mumbo jumbo to explain away the tough question that troubles reflective Christians everywhere.

He replied: “She is the only one who has put a question for which there is no answer and she wasn’t even able to express it in words, but in tears.”

But looking for answers to the abuse, hardship and poverty that cause hundreds of thousands of children to suffer is my constant quest.

I believe that God does not allow anybody to suffer.

St. John says in his gospel that God is love, meaning that pure spiritual love is the force and power of eternal goodness. That excludes totally any possibility of such love allowing or tolerating suffering. Otherwise it would be an absurd contradiction.

Humans are invited and challenged to try to have love that is selfless, kind, understanding and caring of others. It is the love that is ready to lay down one’s life itself for the love of a friend or humanity.

It is based on sharing , self-giving and putting aside one’s desires for self gratification, power, unnecessary wealth and surplus possessions. It is a kind of love that cannot be experienced when we have an excess of material things and possessions.

That great happiness is indescribable it has to be experienced and be felt and understood in some small way. It’s being in contact with “eternal goodness and love.” It’s the doorway to being in and of the Kingdom.

St. Francis and many others to the present day have found pure joy and happiness when they were able to cast off or give away unnecessary self-serving possessions and embrace a life of service to others. For many it may mean giving up a self-image of being a superior human being, one who is more powerfully dominant and influential that most others. That’s a delusion; we can be the slave of money and possessions and weakened by our desire for it.

Money is a mere material thing, it can have power over us and subjugate our true self and stifle our goodness and our ability to love others. So the saying “all the money in the world cant buy happiness” is partially true. Its possession may not buy spiritual happiness for us but can bring happiness to others when it is used wisely and successfully to alleviate poverty and social injustice. If we do this we let go of “possessiveness” and can be free and available to be loved and embraced by eternal goodness and happiness.

The suffering of humanity and children is because of the absence of this love and goodness. The disposition of material things is determined by the free choice of the individual or the group. Poverty and suffering is present when love is absent. So human suffering is made and caused mostly by other humans and is directly connected to the free choice of other humans. The answer to the child’s question lies in the hands of the rich and the powerful.

shaycullen@preda.org

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5 Comments

  1. The cause of children suffering is the result of irresponsible parenthood. When children are brought to the world into poverty because their parents are breeding them like rabbits like what the Pope said, no amount of divine providence will be sufficient to solve the problem.The churches has to teach the morality to their flocks to live by and the philosophy and rules to think about, but they should not be blind to reality. The government on the other hand should not just ignore the plight of the poor and the homeless. They have the capability of setting programs to solve this problem permanently instead of the usual band aid approach.Our officials should look to other countries who are very successful and learn from them instead of acting so dumb, thinking that we know all the answers and solutions.Why don’t they go to Singapore and learn from the tiny country’s successes.They have the best Airport in the world, one of the cleanest places in the world, and no slum or homeless in the street and they are only a few hours by plane from Manila.Israel has a Kibbutzim system that we could easily and successfully adapt, where we could round up all our street kids and all our slum dwellers and move them to a descent government subsidized settlement so they can be productive and well taken cared of. Universal Health Care can be achieved if we work on it. The main problem with our government is the lack of focus, no blue print, no Marshall plan. We drift from one administration to another with no visible and tangible direction. Politics, corruption,a justice system that is politicized, slow and and inefficient
    .nepotism, luck of leadership and uneducated , dumb voters who elects movie stars, sports figures instead of technocrats to run the country. So Help US GOD

  2. Does God allow humans sufferings!! Yes!! Hanggang ngayon ba naman hindi ninyo alam yan! Nakasulat yan, at alam ninyo!! Ang dahilan!!
    Kapag-ang tao sumamba sa mga rebulto at mga santo at sa larawan at gawin mong father ang mga tao,kapalit niya, ganyan ang manyayari! Ang tigas ng ulo ng tao!!
    Bulag ba o walang utak!!ang mga nag-tuturo!!
    Nakasulat na, lahat ng gumagawa nito ay!!sumpain kayo at salutin yan ang nakasulat! !
    Nagtataka pa ba kayo!!

  3. Justaskingseriously on

    By way of analogy, a parent’s love would not allow children to suffer? Wouldn’t the same love (to be true love) allow the children to be spoiled? Is life a catch 22?

    Isaiah 55:8-9. God’s ways are way beyond ours; His thoughts are way above ours.

    Colossians 1:24. Paul rejoices in his physical sufferings; he is “filling up” what is still “lacking” in the sufferings of Jesus for the “sake of his body, the church”.

    Why do children suffer? Most likely to make up for all the crazy things that adults are doing. Isn’t it time for the adults to do some making up as well? Wonder if the label “adult” comes from “ad ultra”? “beyond” the age of innocence. Shouldn’t adults be expected to know that thoughts, words and actions have far reaching consequences? Efforts at maintaining or recapturing one’s innocence would make a person be like a little child worthy to enter the kingdom of God.

    John 3:16. God’s love made His only Son suffer?

  4. Does God allow human suffering? Probably not, but the Catholic Church most definitely yes.