God's will, our free will and suffering

I’m wondering if you guys have any ideas

so I do understand that suffering can be punishment ofr sin, either our own, or someon else’s, or else as a way to sanctify us

and I do realize that without bad things happening sometimes, good things can’t happen. or at least we wouldn’t know the difference.

but I guess I still struggle with the concept, some things are just really horrible, rape, murder, etC… and God is often compared to our parents. but if you knew your child was about to get raped, or murdered, wouldn’t you try and stop it? and I do believe that God does intervene sometimes, we just don’t know. for example, anyone of us could have died today but maybe God protected us from something that we didn’t know was going to happen. but wouldn’t this violate free will then? if god stopped the hypothetical murderer or rapist?

and what about the things that aren’t a result of sin? natural disasters or just random accidents?

I hope I’m making sense. basically, I’m trying to figure out if God sometimes does intervene in certain things and why not others? and if he does intervene, how does that not violate free will

there is a lot of evil in the world, and sometimes I just don’t know what it’s all for

That we have free will does not mean we will not run into trouble or even become victims of crime and illness. How we practice that free will may very well determine what kind of difficulties we do experience, whether or not we land up being someplace dangerous or safe and so on. And this applies to all of us, including those who may decide to rape and kill. They choose to sin and someone innocent pays the price.

God can intercede for us, but will not do so against our will. I have wondered if more folks prayed for His intercession if they would not avoid difficulties or circumstances that would land up protecting them from harm. And example: I once prayed, while on board a plane, that if there was even one person in danger of losing his/her salvation IF something happened to the plane and it crashed, that God would stop the flight for the sake of that one person. Not five minutes later the plane was grounded for “failed hydrolics.”

Now everyone started to complain and the flight had to be delayed some 4 hours. But I could not complain. It seemed possible that there just might have been a soul in danger of being lost on that plane and God had answered by prayer. What if I had not said that prayer??? Who is to say that a plane crash was not prevented by the fact that I decided to say that prayer and God answered my request?

Every aspect of our lives are intertwined with events outside of our control, our own habits and responses to God, other peoples prayers and actions and simple randomness that is part of life. When and if God intercedes depends on our willingness, how we deal with our own free will, if we sin or not, and our prayer life. It is not a simple cause and effect occurrence.

God will not prevent us from making our choices. He provides us opportunities to ask for or reject His help when offered and every single thing we do and say has an effect on how our life unfolds. And though we suffer, it is not because He desires this, but it is an integral part of our salvation journey if we are to imitate His Son.

hi cricket2, thanks for your response

I’m a little confused on what you said though. are you saying if something bad happens to us, it’s because we didn’t pray enough or we didn’t ask God for help?

there are a lot of people caught in horrific situations all around the world. do you think they’re not asking God to help them? what causes certain innocent people to pay the price for some sins and not others?

You have never understood this idea from anything that the Catholic Church has ever taught. But this idea leads me to understand the root of your objection.

You would be right to object if God rewarded faithfulness and punished unfaithfulness while we yet live on this earth. But the Church teaches neither concept.

St. Theresa of Avila was in a carriage which got stuck in the mud. As she and the driver, knee-deep in mud, struggled to free the wheel, she exclaimed, “God, if this is how you treat your friends, it’s no wonder you have so few of them.”

It was a moment of frustration, and not a reflection of the true feelings of this Saint and Doctor of the Church (and the Foundress of a great Carmelite Order, and the first of only four female Doctors). But you might take comfort in knowing that even Saints and Doctors of the Church share your frustration.

Jesus never taught that we would be punished for our sins, or rewarded for our virtues, while we were yet on earth. In fact, he taught rather strongly on the second point, even unto death on a Cross, though he had lived a life of pure virtue. When we talk about bad things happening to good people, no example exceeds that of Our Lord.

Jesus taught that nobody is greater than his master. We serve a crucified master.

Evil happens either because God permits it, or because God cannot prevent it.

If we want to say that God permits it, we go down the “Higher Purpose” route. While that is fine for skinned knees, I cannot see it working with some of the genuine horrors of this world.

If God cannot prevent it, then we run into problems with exactly what “omnipotence” means, and whether, for example, it does not mean being able to do something illogical, like allowing humanity free will whilst intervening in such a way as to invalidate that freedom.

Personally, I would rather believe in a God who cannot than a God who will not prevent evil.

angell1 #1
there is a lot of evil in the world, and sometimes I just don’t know what it’s all for

The evil in the world is due to Original Sin and the action of the devil and his angels.

From Catholic Culture:
**Summary of St John Paul II’s Catechesis on Original Sin **
“2. In this regard, the Tridentine Decree states first of all: Adam’s sin has passed to all his descendants, that is to all men and women as descendants of our first parents and their heirs in human nature already deprived of God’s friendship. The Tridentine Decree (DS 1512) explicitly states that Adam’s sin tainted not only himself but also all his descendants. Adam forfeited original justice and holiness not only for himself but also for us (nobis etiam). Therefore, he transmitted to the whole human race not only bodily death and other penalties (consequences of sin) but also sin itself as the death of the soul (peccatum quod est mors animae.)”

Mystophilus #5
Evil happens either because God permits it, or because God cannot prevent it.
Personally, I would rather believe in a God who cannot than a God who will not prevent evil.

Such a perception indicates a misunderstanding of Original Sin and its results, as well as a misunderstanding of the omnipotence of God, free-will, and of examples of His punishment of evildoers in the Sacred Scriptures.

I didn’t mean that good people never suffer. I just meant that sometimes we are punished because of the consequence of our sin. or God uses something that we think is evil to draw us out of a certain sin. that is not against catholic teaching.

it’s a known fact that many people return to church if something bad happens to them, they suddenly realize that they need God in their life.

Yes, it’s not against Catholic teaching. The divinity of the flying spaghetti monster (ie, the FSM, a straw-man athiest logical fallacy) is also not against Catholic teaching (the Church has not taught about the FSM).

There is a nearly-infinite set of teachings which are neither accepted by nor contradicted by the Church. This does not lend any sense of legitimacy whatsoever to ANY of them.

However, unlike the FSM, the notion that we suffer punishments during our earthly life for our spiritual transgressions (or enjoy earthly rewards for our faithfulness) is certainly within the legitimate teaching realm of Catholic doctrine. The fact that the Church has taught neither idea these past 2000 years is compelling.

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