The Bible abounds with tales of men and women questioning, debating and, of course, offending God. Abraham bargained with Him over the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Moses and Jonah argued that they weren’t fit for the tasks He gave them to make Egyptians and Ninevites, respectively, follow His will.
In the Gospel, the woman at the well
wondered why Jesus, a Jew, would ask water from her, a Samaritan disdained by Jews. The Apostle Thomas doubted His rising. Peter told Jesus off for saying He would be killed, was dismayed at being repeatedly asked about his love, and denied Him thrice.
So if one feels like letting off steam about God and the world He created, steam away. The Lord can take it, and would not take offense over it. Indeed, like everything else in our lives, whether noble or nasty, God finds ways even in our questioning and disputing with Him to bring us closer and infuse us with the Holy Spirit of His Love.
Thus, heaven would have smiled when one Mass-goer last Sunday, after readings and a homily extolling God’s immutable and infinite love for us, asked the vexed question she raised many times before: If God so loved the world, why does He allow so much suffering and evil?
Lately, the incensed believer was most disturbed by the atrocities of Boko Haram extremists in Africa, who have perpetrated killings, rapes, kidnappings and slavery. Also distressing her was the deadly earthquake in Nepal, which killed more than 7,000 and isolated hundreds of thousands in mountain villages cut off by landslides.
Now why would the Almighty Creator suffer such gripes from a creature questioning His goodness and providence?
Answer: Because any questioning of this world’s failings comes from Himself.
Yup, dissatisfaction with creation’s imperfections can only come from minds and hearts that see how perfect things could be. And that ability to see the ideal and, thus, point out how the world deviates from it — that is God’s wisdom, nothing less.
Among creatures, only man has that divine perspective. Thus, while all flora and fauna suffered in the Nepal quake, only Homo sapiens could ask why the world could not have been spared such calamity — as perfect worlds should be. Or when men kill, maim, pillage and subjugate, only the soul who knows the beauty of all-embracing love can castigate the Maker for the ugliness of a world without love.
So God takes no offense from our griping over earthly woes, because it merely mirrors His own heavenly perspective infused in beings created in His own image. In disdaining life’s ills, it is God’s displeasure we display. He can only nod in agreement.
Only those who care quarrel
And even if there may be some discord, isn’t that love? People who care about one sometimes quarrel. If they didn’t, maybe they don’t matter that much to each other. Or they don’t feel close enough to say and share what they think and feel, confident that the other would listen intently and understand our pain, as a father would his children.
That’s an even bigger reason God appreciates our gripes. Our misgivings about the world He made, spoken or unspoken, show that we have faith in Him and His goodness, that we hope for His providence, that we trust He will hear every word and respond someway, somehow.
That’s far better than not protesting to the Creator about His creatures’ flaws, not believing He will pay heed and take action, never thinking He’s there for us always.
Of course, God is His own person. Like any loved one, He answers when He’s ready, when He wants. We have to respect His silence and His time, just as He waits for us to lend an ear and open our hearts to His call and His love. Even if it takes all our life.
And like our own family and friends, God’s answer to our pleading and whining isn’t always as we wish. The kid screaming for ice cream before dinner wouldn’t get it from the mother who wants the best nutrition for him or her. But Mom would understand and even smile at her child’s fuming.
We also have to do our part in bringing forth the betterment we want for our life and world. Like the teenager who must set aside games and gimmicks to hit his books before exams. Like humanity curbing modernity’s excesses to diminish the disasters, drought, dirt and disease thrown up by ungreen ways.
God is not silent
The good news is God’s goodness has advanced over the eons. After the Big Bang billions of years ago, chaotic matter gave rise to galaxies of stars, planets, comets and asteroids, and on Earth, living organisms and, in the last million years, human beings with intelligence, free will, personal love, and spirituality.
While violence, oppression, destitution, and other ills have marred life and society, humankind has also brought forth great saints, artists, thinkers, leaders, and reformers.
Imperial wars and subjugation, slavery and discrimination, disease and poverty, and other scourges have diminished.
Hence, God is certainly not silently letting evil triumph, but steadily spreading good. And our distress over life’s failings is part of His perfecting grace, driving us to struggle for goodness, truth, beauty, justice, and happiness. In our pains, frustrations and death, we also share in God’s own agonies during His Second Person’s sojourn on earth.
So when you next see something amiss in life, mince no words about it to the Giver of Life. He will nod in agreement, smile in understanding and love, and lend His grace and power to our striving for a better world. Amen.