‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?’

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“Ever since the illness of my daughter, I have lost fervor in praying to God.”

So shared a mother of three recently about her diminished piety amid the life-threatening affliction of her eldest. She still goes to Sunday Mass and says grace at meals. But her doubts about God’s love, justice and concern for humanity, already strained by the spectacle of evil and calamity in the world, ebbed even more.

Having never faced anything so painful as the threat of a child dying, one feels unqualified if not presumptuous to counsel those devastated by actual or impending tragedy. Our Lord can give comfort and advice, of course, having undergone far greater agony, cruelty and injustice. Still, the anguished human may yet feel that even the Creator become man, can never know a suffering creature’s utter helplessness and hopelessness.

Nonetheless, this writer tried to talk with the lamenting mother. Better one’s caring if fumbling words than frigid, unfeeling silence, one hoped.


It’s okay to feel abandoned by God
First, affirm the validity of her lament and even the waning of her faith and the waxing of her dismay in the divine. The pain she feels shows her love for her dearest children, her compassion for the sick, and indeed her belief and dependence on the goodness of God. For the weakening of her faith and confidence in Him means she had such strong sentiments to start with.

Moreover, the Lord understands and underwent the hopelessness and abandonment by heaven felt by millions of His fellow human beings. “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” Jesus cried on the cross, echoing the wails of many a fearful mother of stricken children, not to mention the victims of war, calamity, hunger, disease, oppression, injustice, and a host of earthly enormities seemingly unhelped by heaven.

At the same time, let us not forget the rest of Christ’s Seven Last Words. After that fifth despairing utterance came His declaration of unfailing fidelity to and fulfillment of His Father’s will: “It is accomplished.” And finally, reversing His moment of unconfidence, Jesus threw Himself into the only way forward after the last breath: “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.”

We too are invited to rise from despair to fidelity to our mission and faith in our Father in heaven. Still, it’s naturally near-impossible to make that leap of faith heavenward from the depths of despondency and tragedy. How we wish we could hear or feel the answer Jesus got.

For many hopeless and helpless souls, they need a clear and consoling answer to their conundrum expressed in the crucified Christ’s question: Why has God abandoned us? Or worse: Why has He allowed this suffering, injustice and evil? Which is another way of asking why, after all this pain and tragedy, should we keep believing God is good, caring and loving?

Can a good God create an evil world?

Why indeed? Okay, take a deep breath and get set for some amateur theology. We’ll take it slow.

Christians believe that God created the universe and everything in it. Now, to create something means to bring forth an entity different from the Creator; otherwise, He would just be replicating Himself. And to be different and distinct from God means to be imperfect, because God is perfect. Clear so far?

So if creatures are imperfect, they would have aspects and actions that don’t partake of God’s absolute love, goodness, truth, beauty, order, wisdom, and other perfect attributes. So creatures can be unloving, untrue, ugly, disorderly, unwise, bad, and otherwise lacking in divine perfection.

That’s why there is evil in the world: the price of being created is to be imperfect and therefore having the potential or tendency to go against what God is or wants.

Even human beings created in God’s image, by Genesis’s account: we killed, enslaved, subjugated, and otherwise oppressed our own kind as well as other living creatures. These evils have continued into the modern era, with today’s global civilization not just possessing enough arms to destroy all life many times over, but also consuming and polluting the planet potentially to the point of making it uninhabitable for man and other forms of life.

He didn’t ask me
Upon hearing this explanation of God and evil, the despondent mother said she wished God had asked her first if she wanted to be brought into this mess of a world. But she quickly realized that being consulted before being created was impossible, since one must be made first before one could be asked.

The good news is that the universe has also brought forth much good, beauty, wisdom, knowledge, kindness, and happiness, as life, society and civilizations have developed. Ills like disease, famine, racism, slavery, destitution and subjugation have been drastically reduced.

Believers ascribe such goodness to God’s design and prodding; non-believers credit natural factors. Bottom line: there is much good in the world, and ample ground to believe and hope in a loving Creator leading imperfect creation toward His perfection.

Like the mother’s daughter now completing treatment and regaining health.

So decry our ills and doubt our Creator, but also know that He isn’t letting evil have its unbridled way. And at our sojourn’s end, we can tell Him to erase our entire sordid existence like it never happened. Or we can walk with Him into His perfect joy. Amen.

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14 Comments

  1. All of God’s creation are unmistakably His. The sun and all the stars, the trees , atomic particles etc are indisputably all His doing. The fact that there is now this debate going on here is evidence that this religious teaching is man made, no different from legal, political, economic theories that are subject to endless debate like this one.

  2. To Observer,

    I believe part of the misunderstanding is your not reading exactly what I have written.

    You said “Please allow me here to address a point raised by North Pole. Quote: ”We suffer because God has designed suffering to be the end-all and be-all of his creation. . ”

    But if one will care to look again on what I have written, there is the word “NOT” between “We suffer” and “because God has designed…”.

    I wrote “We suffer NOT because God has designed sufferings to be the end-all and be-all of His creation…” (emph. NP). Your omitting the word NOT gave the exact opposite meaning to what I explicitly said. I hope it is unintentional in your part.

  3. To Observer,

    My remarks which you have taken to task is in response to Mr. Saludo’s statement “to be different and distinct from God means to be imperfect, because God is perfect.”

    As I have stated in my comment, “We were not created to be God, and in this sense, we are perfect.” God did not intend to create another perfect God (for there could be only one God, Ex. 20:2-3), but a perfect human. As for this purpose, we were created perfectly. God said “it (everything God had made-NP) was very good” (Gen 1:31).

    You then asked, “Man is “perfect”? Not after the original sin.” What God had originally created include a perfect setting for man to make choices based on his own free will. Man’s falling into sin is not God’s fault as many will allege, but man’s own doing. It is because with the temptation, God also made a way for us to escape (1 Cor 10:13), it is just that we do not take the escape routes.

    You also asked, “Are not all things that caused the disruption of original human condition resulted in suffering were caused by sin?” Yes, you are correct. And you just gave a good case for the perfect creation. If I make a mistake, wronged someone, or sin, is it only right that I suffer the consequences? If I slay your love one, or torture you and forcibly take your hard earned money for no justifiable reason, will you not agree that it is only right that I be punished? What God did, disrupting original human condition resulting in suffering, addressed sin in this part of life.

    “What kind of God would “design” suffering so that he then would “test our faith”, you also asked. But didn’t you earlier suggested that “all things that caused the disruption of original human condition resulted in suffering were caused by sin”? So which is it Observer, is suffering designed by God or not?

    Your final question – if we are perfect, what is the point of testing – I apologize due to space limitations cannot be answered at this time. I will reply…

  4. Sa totoo lang matagal na tayong pinarurusahan ng poong maykapal tingnan nyo ang ating mga politiko halos lahat walang takot sa diyos puro pahirap sa mga mamayan ang ginagawa sa bayan, Puro sila (halos lahat) ganid at walang alam kundi magnakaw sa kaban ng bayan.

  5. Ang problema sa maraming tao kapag nagkakaron ng prolema at tumatawag sa dios at hindi nila natatanggap ang kailangan at tunay na dios!
    Walang isa man ang nagtatanong sa tunay na dios kaba tumatawag o pinalitan mo siya ng mga rebulto at mga santo, santita at mga tao na namamatay!
    Saan ka ba lumuluhod?
    Sa tunay na dios ba na turo ng mga pari!
    Bawal bang direkta sa kanya at wala ng mga padrinong mga rebulto?
    Kung kayo lumagay sa dios matutuwa ba kayo?
    Ini-insulto at nilalapastangan ninyo siya!
    Nakasulat sa biblya kaya sinasalot ang mundo dahil sa paglalapastangan ninyo sa kanya?mga hanggal ang tawagniya sa mga tao sumasamba sa kahoy na rebulto na siya naman ang gumawa!
    Ang writer nito ay hindi nakakatulong lalo lamang niyang ibinabaon ang tao sa kasalanan, lalot itinuturo ay maling aral!
    Parang awa na ninyo,mag-isip-isip at basahin mabuti ang bible, dahil maraming-marami kayong ipapahamak!
    Kung ang tao Hindi niya alam kung sino ang tamang tinatawag!
    Parang awa na ninyo sa mga kaluluwa ng mga taong patuloy na nahihikayat ninyo!

    • Mr. Marco Polo Sir! hindi po pinagbabawal ng simbahan katoliko ang pagdarasal ng deritso sa Diyos, Kung ikaw po ay banal ay maari ka rin namin gawin santo, at maaring din po kami humingi ng tulong sa inyo para ipagdasal mo rin kami sa atin panginoon.Pero mahirap pong mangyari iyon sa inyo. Kayo po ay binulag na sa katotohanan ng iyon ministro na ang katoliko ay hindi totoong kristiano. Bago pa po lumabas ang mga katulad nyo umabot muna 1500 taon na iisa lamang ang kristiano kundi katoliko. Hindi po masamang mag basa ng biblia, hindi rin masama mag basa ng history para malaman mo ang pinag mulan mo. Pagpalain po kayo ng may kapal.

  6. Dear Mr. Saludo,

    For me, North Pole is correct in saying that we are perfect. Our soul is perfect as it was made in the image and likeness of God who is perfect.

    Remember that only good things come from God. Sufferings are human frailties. He allows them to happen.

    Thank you.

  7. Mr. Saludo, you gave this mother a genuine compassion to ease her pain, kind and inspired words to clear up her mind over what she is going through, despite your feeling of inadequacy to help. By your narrative, I am sure the Holy Spirit had given you the wisdom that strengthen her heart and the grace of God dispensed by your presence.

    Please allow me here to address a point raised by North Pole. Quote: ” We suffer because God has designed suffering to be the end-all and be-all of his creation. . ” and that ” we are perfect.”

    Man is “perfect”? Not after the original sin. Isn’t suffering the effect of original sin? If we are “perfect” as North Pole asserts, how come Adam and Eve committed the original sin. Are not all things that caused the disruption of original human condition resulted in suffering were caused by sin? What kind of God would “design” suffering so that he then would “test our faith”. If as Mr North Pole claim, we are “perfect”, what is the point of testing.

    I wanted to place this reply to North Pole under his post but to commend you Mr. Saludo is more important to me.

  8. The human mind devices ways to survive in the real world. Religion is a creation of man.
    Has anyone wondered why the duplicitous, the conniving bullshitters of the world always gets the upper hand? Why, because our human likes to believe in fantasy. Reality is too much to handle or we go crazy.
    Thats why religions, politicians, actors, magicians, con-men flourish and run the world.
    Has anyone tried to listen to someone telling us the truth about ourselves or our relationships? Why do we ask, why is it that we are the last one to know if our lover/partner has gone astray? Why, because the truth hurts, thats why.

    Thats why we invent a God, a Merciful one. But we don’t see the incongruity. What the communists call the “Contradiction”.

    In plain words ” We try to Bullshit our way to Nirvana”…
    A friend once ask : ” If Heaven is so nice and deligthful, why is it no one is volunteering to get there first ? “

  9. The very bad news about our electoral democracy, the drive against corruption and injustice, the struggle for the rule of law and for a just economic order being mocked, pissed and shitted on by President Aquino, DBM Secretary Abad, Speaker Belmonte and Senate President Drilon, the PNP and AFP chiefs and highest officers, and the rule of the Comelec-Smartmatic/PCOS machine mafia pushes me to the depths of despair.
    Makes me think the promise of GOOD TIMES made by Jesus and KEPT ALIVE by the Church can never be had in this world but only in heaven.
    Or that that it is true that God helps only those who help themselves.
    Let’s help ourselves by rising and toppling down the virtual dictatorship of DEDMA under President BS!

  10. I find it so strange how christians twist what god does ( according to them ) & why he does it. If you believe in god & the devil & that sometimes its the devil who gets his way i ask is the devil stronger than god & did god also make the devil. If he didnt make the devil who did & if god did make the devil why.
    I think its a load of tosh & many many years ago some very very clever people saw a way of controling the masses & have used that for their own ideas.
    I myself if i am wrong in my thinking have no problems if when i die there is a god to answer to. Yes i will admit when i did wrong But i would also explain why i thought like i do think. But if there isnt a god then when i die i have no worries as im dead & thats it.
    I know believeing in god in a time of tragedy can give great comfort & i dont have that luxury but when i see so much evil in this world & many many times from supposedly religious people well im sorry i refuse to believe there is a god.

  11. Dear Mr. Saludo,

    “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31).

    You are correct that “to create something means to bring forth an entity different from the Creator”; however, it does not necessarily follow that “to be different and distinct from God means to be imperfect, because God is perfect.”

    We were not created to be God, and in this sense, we are perfect. The creation was created perfect as to its purpose. Sorrows, sadness, injustice, pains, and sufferings, are among the attributes to be experienced by the perfectly created.

    We suffer not because God has designed sufferings to be the end-all and be-all of His creation, but because sufferings test our “faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7).

    God have not and did not forsook anyone of us. On the contrary, it is us, His creation, who have abandoned Him by not believing and not following His words as revealed in the scriptures, the Bible.

    “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)

    Thanks and regards.

  12. You missed the detail where from the heaven comes bad-karma to folks because of their bad actions (and even for the bad actions of their parents or grandparents).

    And Pilipinas-style would be Retribution —-> Like criminals getting salvaged.

  13. Dear Mr. Saludo,

    Indeed why God allows sufferings is difficult to explain. But may be that is because God’s ways are above our ways and God’s thoughts are above our thoughts. But we can find meaning in suffering when we realize the value of what we call redemptive suffering.

    Sufferings acquire meaning when we realize that Jesus Himself chose to suffer and die on the cross because of His love for us. Jesus’ passion and death gave meaning to suffering. Jesus did not have to suffer. But He chose to suffer to show us that suffering can be embraced and offered back to God the Father as a kind of atonement for sins.

    As Fr. Paul in his newsletter at the Confraternity of the Rosary writes “By the sufferings in His human nature during the Passion by which mankind was redeemed, Christ gave to all suffering experienced in the members of His Mystical Body a redeeming power when accepted and offered up in union with His Passion.

    Pope John Paul II wrote: “In bringing about the Redemption through suffering, Christ raised human suffering to the level of the Redemption. Thus each man, in his sufferings, can also become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ” (Salvifici Doloris).”

    Fr. Paul continues to write that Jesus has given us a great gift and a great miracle. He has transformed human suffering by giving it a supernatural value, a supernatural power. But it is a gift so few realize and so little appreciated, for it is known only when seen through the eyes of faith; and the faith of many are weak. How many opportunities to acquire graces and for helping others are thrown away in complaining about the crosses of life.

    By offering our sufferings to the Lord, we are able to make atonement for our own sins, make reparation for the sins of others. We are able to help in the conversion of sinners and non-believers. Finally, we are able to help the poor souls in Purgatory where the pain is more intense than we can ever imagine.

    Thanks and God…