Evil and Suffering

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“If Only there is No God then there is No Problem:” A Theological Reflection On the Mystery of Evil And Uniqueness of God For a theologian or an ordinary person concerned with the problem of theodicy, human suffering appears to be inconsistent with the notion of a God who is all-powerful and good. It is rationally inconceivable to claim belief in such a God when people are faced with senseless suffering in their day-today-life. How do we respond to the events of suffering that challenge our relationship with God and call into question our whole identity as human beings? A friend once wrote to me:” When I think about the problems that I face currently in my life I roll tears and cry bitterly to God for testing me and treating me in the way God does. If God were visible to me I would talk to him bitterly about the illnesses and sufferings I’m experiencing in my day-to-day life since the beginning of last year. Yet I cry and bend down on my knees begging God to forgive me in case I have transgressed. Similarly, when he was asked to share his experience regarding the present war crisis in the Sudan at a conference with the Archbishop of Des Moines, one Sudanese “lost boy” said; “How do you expect us to think that God loves the people of Southern Sudan who suffer the adversity of war and famine every single day of their lives? We pray everyday, but God does not pay attention to our prayer; everyday innocent people are killed. What do you expect us to think about God? Love Him?” Yet on the other hand, if you watched the collapse of the World Trade Center on September 11 2001, you would recall the believer’s cry “Oh my God, Oh my God” as suffering and death loomed imminent on the victims of the terrorist attack. Here in Chicago you may recall the words of Dorothy Myers on the scene of destruction, as the E2 regulars saw troubles of severe suffering and death brewing when fire broke out in the nightclub. “We need answers,” she cried. “What is going on? Our kids are gone. Oh Jesus give us some answers.”[1] Whether Jesus gave them an answer we don’t know, we know that the problem of evil and suffering in the world has vexed theologians and ordinary people since before the time of Job. Suffering on Job’s trash heap, demanded an audience with God. The questions raised by the conditions of personal and social sufferings continue to challenge the faith of most believers, and some suggest that the apparent failure of theology and religion to adequately account for evil and suffering is the greatest source of atheism in the modern age.[2] Struggling with the problem of suffering and evil may lead to atheism, but still for one who believes, s/he is faced with the question of God and the appropriate response to suffering. Sooner or later the question becomes: “If there is God that we believe in, why then all this suffering? Or a more radical approach would claim: “if only there is no God, then there is no problem.”[3] When people suffer they cry out to God. They wonder why God allows such suffering to occur to them. They wonder about the evil they have done to deserve such a punishment. In a sense, true suffering and hopelessness such as the endless war in Sudan, the September 11 terrorist attack, individuals suffering with terminal illnesses, distort people’s image of and belief in God as well as of as their understanding of the person as created in the image and likeness of God. They wonder whether God is such a blind force of destiny without any feeling, or God is simply being apathetic.[4] They also wonder whether the human person, the masterpiece of God’s beautiful creation is endowed with any spark of goodness as does claim Karl Rahner. On the other hand there is an increasing tendency in Western societies to consider suffering as evil in itself and thus something to be banished as quickly as possible without considering its source or meaning. More troubling, however, are those people and...
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