Skip to comments.Where is God At Times Like These? A meditation in the wake of a violent atrocity [Prayer Ping]
Posted on 12/14/2012 10:01:32 PM PST by Salvation
One of the great mysteries to to believer and non-believer alike is the mystery of evil and suffering. If there is a God who is omnipotent and omniscient how can he tolerate evil, injustice, and suffering of the innocent? Where was God yesterday when the shootings in Connecticut occurred? Where is God when a young girl is raped, when genocide is committed, when evil men hatch their plots? Why Did God even conceive the evil ones, and let them be born?
The problem of evil cannot be simply answered. It is a mystery. Its purpose and why God permits it are caught up in our limited vision and understanding. The scriptures say how all things work together for the good of those who love and trust the Lord and are called according to his purposes. But how this is so is difficult for us to see in many circumstances.
Anyone who have ever suffered tragic and senseless loss or observed the disproportionate suffering that some must endure cannot help but ask, why? And the answers arent all that satisfying to many for suffering is ultimately mysterious in many ways.
I have some respect for those who struggle to believe in the wake of tragedy. I do not share their struggle but I understand and respect its depths and the dignity of the question. At the end of the trail of questions, often asked in anguish, is God who has not chosen to supply simple answers. Perhaps if he were our simple minds could not comprehend them anyway. We are left simply to decide, often in the face of great evil and puzzling suffering, that God exists or not.
As in the days of Job, we cry out for answers but little is forthcoming. In the Book of Job, God speaks from a whirlwind and He questions Jobs ability to even ask the right questions, let alone venture and answer to the problem and presence of evil and suffering. If He were to explain, it seems all that we would hear would be thunder. In the end he is God and we are not. This must be enough and we must look to the reward that awaits the faithful with trust.
Perhaps the most perplexing aspect of suffering is its uneven distribution. In America we suffer little in comparison to many other parts of the world. Further, even here, some skate through life strong and sleek, wealthy and well fed. Others endure suffering, crippling disease, inexplicable and sudden losses, financial setbacks, and burdens.
It is a true fact that a lot of our suffering comes from bad choices, substance abuse and lack of self-control. But some suffering seems unrelated to any of this.
And the most difficult suffering to accept is that caused on the innocent by third parties who seem to suffer no penalty. Parents who mistreat or neglect their children, the poor who are exploited and used, caught in schemes others have made, perhaps it is corrupt governments, perhaps unscrupulous industries, or crazed killers.
Suffering is hard to explain or accept simply. I think this just has to be admitted. Simple slogans and quick answers are seldom sufficient in the face of great evil and suffering. Perhaps when interacting with an atheist of this third kind, sympathy, understanding and a call to humility goes farther than forceful rebuttal.
A respectful exposition of the Christian understanding of evil might include some of the following points. Note, these are not explanations per se (for suffering is a great mystery) and they are humble for they admit of their own limits.
To these points I am sure you will add. But be careful with the problem of evil and suffering. It has mysterious dimensions which must be respected. Simple answers may not help those who struggle with the problem of suffering and evil. Understanding and an exposition that shows forth the Christian struggle to come to grips with this may be the best way. The answer of scripture requires faith but the answer appeals to reason, and calls us to humility before a great mystery of which we see only a little. The appeal to humility before a mystery may command greater respect from an atheist of this sort than pat answers which may tend to alienate.
"When Bad Things Happen to Good People"
The libs threw God out of the school and wouldn’t “buzz” him back in.
Prayers for all the parents as for the repose of the souls of those who were killed.
We must also pray for the person who perpetrated this crime. God have mercy on him.
Prayers for all the parents as well as for the repose of the souls of those who were killed.
I hate to say it, but when my atheist brother brings up arguments using examples like this, it’s very difficult to counter with just a “in God we trust.” Thanks for the article.
Another great book — now out of print, however. It helped me a lot as I watch five family members die within a period of five years.
“Without Thorns It’s Not a Rose” by Father Jack Scott
Ask the atheist how he/she would have prevented it?
The fact that they even want to talk about it shows, to me, that they have a belief in God. Call them on it.
I never find it necessary to blame God for the evil that men do. Where is God? He is always right there offering comfort and peace.
That would be the same “God” that supposedly made the lunitic and then set him apon those children?
Mental illness indeed.
|Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.||
I believe that every one of those children murdered today are in heaven.
One has to wonder though... had they been protected from this tragedy, how many of them would have come to a saving relationship with Jesus once they passed out of their age of innocence?
When we allow our educators to shun and reject God from our schools, what would we expect to happen as a result?
The atheists will surely look at this and say “see? where is your God in situations such as these?” To which I would respond “I don’t know... but maybe if God were allowed in school, they would still be alive.”
I would also have this observation to make...
As a result of God allowing this to happen, how many parents will finally wake up and remove their children from a public school system which indoctrinates our children in the ways of the world and teaches them to hate God?
I wonder how many lives these children’s death will actually save in the long run?
I wonder how many people will curse God in response to this, and how many people will turn to Him?
The greatest suffering this earth will see is still yet to come. Do you want to be around for it?
Jesus has a great escape plan.
**As a result of God allowing this to happen, how many parents will finally wake up and remove their children from a public school system which indoctrinates our children in the ways of the world and teaches them to hate God?
I wonder how many lives these childrens death will actually save in the long run?**
Ditto to that!
I’m not Christian, Jew, or atheist. I have no “home”, but I seek answers just like most people. Just the other night a friend and I were discussing the existence of God and the presence of evil and great suffering. In doing so, I remembered that Dennis Prager has often talked on this subject and found this “hour” from his program from 2007. Prager mentions Job just like the author here. Thank you, Salvation, for posting this. I don’t know what else to say. Words are so feeble at times like this.
Prager God , Evil and suffering 1 of 4 Apologetics
Prager : God , Evil & Suffering 2 of 4 Apologetics
Prager : God , Evil & Suffering 3 of 4 Apologetics
Prager : God , Evil & Suffering 4 of 4 Apologetics
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In historic TV Q&A, Pope Benedict speaks about suffering, comatose persons, persecution (Catholic)
Pope Addresses Suffering in Historic Television Appearance
(Why Am I Catholic?) For Peace While Suffering (A Few Words for Wednesday)
Praying in Sickness and Old Age
The Church as a Hospital
[CATHOLIC CAUCUS] The Apostolate of Suffering Redux
Through church, Jesus ministers to all who are sick in the world
'Amazing Grace for Those Who Suffer'
Pope Benedict asks sick to offer up suffering for priests (Catholic Caucus)
Why Must I Suffer?
On the Advantages of Tribulations by Saint Alphonsus Liguori
Why Be Catholic? 3: Suffering [Ecumenical]
"Love Really Can Make Suffering Bearable": Woman with Spina Bifida
Experts at Euthanasia Symposium Stress Unity, Strategy, and the Triumph of Love over Suffering
Holy Father prays for peace and unity, encourages the suffering to trust in God
Joy-Filled Suffering, Laetare Sunday
Children 'Suffering >From Lack Of Two-Parent Family', Study Finds
Pope Says Euthanasia 'False Solution' to Suffering, Alludes to Comatose Woman's Fate
Excerpts from THE FRUITS OF HIS LOVE - The Value Of Suffering - Mother M. Angelica
Why Not You? (on suffering)
Vicar takes down crucifixion sculpture 'because it's a scary depiction of suffering'
The Value of Suffering in the Life of Christian Perfection
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Prayers to Saint Agatha [For Those Suffering from Breast Cancer]
REDEMPTIVE SUFFERING(Catholic Caucus or by Invitation Only)
I fled Him, down the nights and down the days; I fled Him, down the arches of the years; I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears I hid from Him, and under running laughter. Up vistaed hopes I sped; And shot, precipitated, Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears, From those strong Feet that followed, followed after. But with unhurrying chase, And unperturbèd pace, Deliberate speed, majestic instancy, They beat--and a Voice beat More instant than the Feet-- "All things betray thee, who betrayest Me." I pleaded, outlaw-wise, By many a hearted casement, curtained red, Trellised with intertwining charities (For, though I knew His love Who followed, Yet was I sore adread Lest having Him, I must have naught beside); But if one little casement parted wide, The gust of His approach would clash it to. Fear wist not to evade, as Love wist to pursue. Across the margent of the world I fled, And troubled the gold gateways of the stars, Smiting for shelter on their clanged bars; Fretted to dulcet jars And silvern chatter the pale ports o' the moon. I said to dawn, Be sudden; to eve, Be soon; With thy young skyey blossoms heap me over From this tremendous Lover! Float thy vague veil about me, lest He see! I tempted all His servitors, but to find My own betrayal in their constancy, In faith to Him their fickleness to me, Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit. To all swift things for swiftness did I sue; Clung to the whistling mane of every wind. But whether they swept, smoothly fleet, The long savannahs of the blue; Or whether, Thunder-driven, They clanged his chariot 'thwart a heaven Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn o' their feet-- Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue. Still with unhurrying chase, And unperturbèd pace, Deliberate speed, majestic instancy, Came on the following Feet, And a Voice above their beat-- "Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me." I sought no more that after which I strayed In face of man or maid; But still within the little children's eyes Seems something, something that replies; They at least are for me, surely for me! I turned me to them very wistfully; But, just as their young eyes grew sudden fair With dawning answers there, Their angel plucked them from me by the hair. "Come then, ye other children, Nature's--share With me," said I, "your delicate fellowship; Let me greet you lip to lip, Let me twine with you caresses, Wantoning With our Lady-Mother's vagrant tresses' Banqueting With her in her wind-walled palace, Underneath her azured daïs, Quaffing, as your taintless way is, From a chalice Lucent-weeping out of the dayspring." So it was done; I in their delicate fellowship was one-- Drew the bolt of Nature's secrecies. I knew all the swift importings On the wilful face of skies; I knew how the clouds arise Spumèd of the wild sea-snortings; All that's born or dies Rose and drooped with--made them shapers Of mine own moods, or wailful or divine-- With them joyed and was bereaven. I was heavy with the even, When she lit her glimmering tapers Round the day's dead sanctities. I laughed in the morning's eyes. I triumphed and I saddened with all weather, Heaven and I wept together, And its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine; Against the red throb of its sunset-heart I laid my own to beat, And share commingling heat; But not by that, by that, was eased my human smart. In vain my tears were wet on Heaven's gray cheek. For ah! we know not what each other says, These things and I; in sound I speak-- Their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences. Nature, poor stepdame, cannot slake my drouth; Let her, if she would owe me, Drop yon blue bosom-veil of sky, and show me The breasts of her tenderness; Never did any milk of hers once bless My thirsting mouth. Nigh and nigh draws the chase, With unperturbèd pace, Deliberate speed, majestic instancy; And past those noisèd Feet A voice comes yet more fleet-- "Lo naught contents thee, who content'st not Me." Naked I wait Thy love's uplifted stroke! My harness piece by piece Thou hast hewn from me, And smitten me to my knee; I am defenseless utterly. I slept, methinks, and woke, And, slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep. In the rash lustihead of my young powers, I shook the pillaring hours And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears, I stand amid the dust o' the mounded years-- My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap. My days have crackled and gone up in smoke, Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream. Yea, faileth now even dream The dreamer, and the lute the lutanist; Even the linked fantasies, in whose blossomy twist I swung the earth a trinket at my wrist, Are yielding; cords of all too weak account For earth with heavy griefs so overplussed. Ah! is Thy love indeed A weed, albeit amaranthine weed, Suffering no flowers except its own to mount? Ah! must-- Designer infinite!-- Ah! must Thou char the wood ere Thou canst limn with it? My freshness spent its wavering shower i' the dust; And now my heart is a broken fount, Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever From the dank thoughts that shiver Upon the sighful branches of my mind. Such is; what is to be? The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind? I dimly guess what Time in mist confounds; Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds From the hid battlements of Eternity; Those shaken mists a space unsettle, then Round the half-glimpsed turrets slowly wash again. But not ere him who summoneth I first have seen, enwound With blooming robes, purpureal, cypress-crowned; His name I know, and what his trumpet saith. Whether man's heart or life it be which yields Thee harvest, must Thy harvest fields Be dunged with rotten death? Now of that long pursuit Comes on at hand the bruit; That Voice is round me like a bursting sea: "And is thy earth so marred, Shattered in shard on shard? Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me! Strange, piteous, futile thing, Wherefore should any set thee love apart? Seeing none but I makes much of naught," He said, "And human love needs human meriting, How hast thou merited-- Of all man's clotted clay rhe dingiest clot? Alack, thou knowest not How little worthy of any love thou art! Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee Save Me, save only Me? All which I took from thee I did but take, Not for thy harms. But just that thou might'st seek it in my arms. All which thy child's mistake Fancies as lost, I have stored for the at home; Rise, clasp My hand, and come!" Halts by me that footfall; Is my gloom, after all, Shade of His hand, outstreched caressingly? "Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest, I am He Whom thou seekest! Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me."
Francis Thompson (1859-1907)
you are the best... Merry Christmas to all amdg
I always thought that God is interested in what is in our hearts, not the details of our deaths or our longevity, God knew those children, he knew the shooter, he knows the parents, and brothers and sisters, and aunts, and best friends of the kids, he knows us on this thread, it is all part of the human experience.
If my child dies of cancer, it doesn’t bother God, he welcomes her home, but he is interested in how she dealt with it, how I dealt with it, how the doctors, the nurses, the guy that made her wig, the guy in the bar that I spilled my guts to, all of us individual humans dealt with it, and with all of the rest of life and their losses and wins, or whether they should even use words like “losses and wins” when talking about life.
This earthly period is when God lets us, nature, rattlesnakes and hurricanes, and car accidents and earthly existence carry on, as he pays attention to what is in our hearts as things happen, and influence us, and how life shapes us.
I have never understood these questions about ‘where is God’, ‘why am I dying’, ‘why is my child dying of bone cancer’, ‘why did God let this steering column go through my chest’, or ‘God blessed me with winning the 20 million dollar lottery’, ‘Oh, looky, God let that rock fall just seconds before I walked over there’, I just don’t think that he gets involved in such things to a degree that we need to incorporate it into our thinking, start miracle score keeping, and miracle talking. I think the things that God finds important, are different (naturally) than many of the things that we find important.
We all suffer, but without suffering, we may as well be rocks carved with prayerful hands.
How many times have we heard the cliche, “God let my wife and child die, I don’t believe in him anymore”, what the heck is that about? The wife, the child, you, all have your own individual relationship with God, and it is the afterlife that is all important.
This is a tragedy to we humans (God already has the children, they and he are doing just fine), but it isn’t God’s doing, or lack of doing.
I wished that I knew more about theology, because I think that this is Christianity 101 and I don’t understand how the media, or the left, and even many Christians think that God created a rock garden of worshipful Christian sculptures who never become rough and ugly, and who don’t live on our own domain, or in our own existence.
Sadly, we are not only are dealing with human flesh and blood, but also we are in the midst of a spiritual warfare situation here, BIGTIME.
The sad reality is that, the day that the same libs threw God out, sadly, are the same libs who invited the devil in.
Please do see posts numbers 22 and 23. Thank-you.
All you need is to BELIEVE!
Those are the posts that I had post, posts 22 and 23.
As a CT FRper, and living 40 minutes away from this horrible shooting incident, prayers for the repose of the souls of those who died and for confort and support to those who are left behind.
Meanwhile, God is constantly working in all things-even events like this-to help us come to Him. He wants to comfort and heal us, trying to draw us back to Him. May God use this opportunity to help people understand our brokeness so that we may repent and turn to Christ to be healed.
Thank you for this post Salvation. Yes, God is a mystery. Good and evil are a part of our struggle.
May God Bless the parents of those children. Somehow...
AMEN to that.
Amen. And if were not for God’s common grace, this type of thing, and much worse, would be an every minute occurence. Those who have not repented and turned to Christ hate God and are filled with all sorts of evil. We do not realize how much evil is held back by God’s Providential hand.
We should not be saying - “where is God”, but should realize how active He really is in this fallen world whereby He keeps this from being common. We should be saying, “Thank you Lord for only allowing this to happen on a rare occasion. As much as people hate God, the world does not deserve such continued favor. Thank you for reminding us of how truly evil sin is, and how truly good and righteous and just you are. Help us to love you more. Help us to tell others about you before it is too late for them.”
Where is God in a time like this?
At the same place where He was when his Only-Begotten Son was nailed to a cross on a hill outside of Jerusalem.
Sin entered into the world and by sin came death.
I will. Thanks.
Yes, we cannot ask God “Why?” but we can ask him, “What do we do now, Lord?”
We can ask the “Why?”, but it really doesn’t do that much good.
**May God use this opportunity to help people understand our brokeness so that we may repent and turn to Christ to be healed.**
Big C, since you phrased that as a question, allow me to hazard a response.
I do not think God "makes" anyone a lunatic, paranoid schizophrenic, murderously sick and evil. Not by His ordaining will -- a will which is seen in His magnificent Creation, which is all good, good after good.
You have an inkling of this if your heart has ever responded to the magnificence, simplicity and loveliness of natural things.
When Jesus walked this earth He was always acting to repair the ruined world and restore this goodness. There's a not a lunatic he encountered that he didn't restore to his right mind. He gave healing to sin-sick souls.
People say bitter things about God because they are revolted, frustrated and in deep pain over the intractability of evil. I share this, too. But looking around, I see that God is still acting through those who nurture, rescue, and restore.
How much more urgent we must be in the part of this mission which is ours.
Well, I do think God allows the creation of lunatic, paranoid schizophrenics among his otherwise majestic creations.
But even paranoid schizophrenics typically have a trace or even a dollop of free will -- maybe fleeting or ephemeral -- but able to influence behavior over time just the same. The perp involved in planning, preparation, and execution of a mass murder would make any number of conscious, immoral decisions along the way. This is the part God didn't "make" -- he only allowed the choices.
Have a Merry Christmas, BTW.
Making Sense Out of Suffering - Peter Kreeft
The Problem of Pain - C. S. Lewis
Holy Innocents, you died before you were old enough to know what life means, pray for all children who die young that God may gather them into His loving arms.
Holy Innocents, you were killed because one man was filled with hatred, pray for those who hate that God may touch their hearts and fill them with love.
Holy Innocents, you experienced a violent death, pray for all who are affected by violence that they may find peace and love.
Holy Innocents, your parents grieved for you with deep and lasting sorrow, pray for all parents who have lost young children that God may wrap a warm blanket of comfort around them.
Holy Innocents, those around you certainly felt helpless to prevent your deaths, pray for all who feel helpless in their circumstances that they may cling to God for courage and hope.
Holy Innocents, you who are now in Heaven, pray for all of us that one day we may join you there to bask in God's love forever.
I agree. I have been raised to believe, and have parents who pray, that prayer results in answers. Then they add on that...”but only if it’s in God’s will”...or “But you may not like the answer.” Well I have told my mother that I don’t believe in “prayer.” I do talk to God. And I do request things. I think He does want our fellowship, to know what’s in our hearts, in other words, to commune with us in spirit. But I think we are basically on our own. For the most part. God IS powerful and if He so chooses can intervene however he likes...but in this earth age, this age of grace/faith...I believe perhaps he is letting things play out as they will.