If God only permits what we can handle, then why are there so many suicides and drug addicts?

I’ve heard so many times that God will only permit things to happen to us if there is some good that can come out of it, and we can handle it. Why, then, are there so many suicides and other people that have just given up on life. Why do people feel a need to tell other people this - that if God gave this to you, He must see you as strong enough to carry it? Or, they also say that “everything will be okay”. How can they say this? How do they know? I bet the mother of the latest person executed on death row probably had someone tell this to her while she was crying about her child, “everything will be okay.” Everything is NOT okay in this world.

I think the answer to that is he doesn’t give us more than we can handle with His strength and help. Too many times we try to handle things in our own ability and strength, and that’s when we wind up despairing and giving up hope or turning to drugs, alcohol, etc.

There’s a very good discussion on this very issue here:


I’m not sure that this view of problems is actually scriptural. I think it may be more a thing people say because it sounds vaguely comforting, and people often don’t know how to respond to someone who is struggling.

I do think that the idea of God ‘sending’ or ‘permitting’ wrong is flawed. In the case of depression in particular, I think trite Christian lines can do a great deal of harm. There’s a mystery in suffering, and the only absolute certainty I know is that God is in the midst of it.

number one, God does not will evil or “give” evil to anyone. He does permit evil in the world because with his grace combatting that evil can be the means for souls to reach union with him.

Second, his grace is freely available to anyone who asks for it, even someone who does not know him but asks for help of the Being all human hearts recognize. People have free will to respond to this grace. As long as we rely on our own strength, talents, will power and effort we will fail, The evil is permitted so that we may learn trust in God and reliance on his Providence.

third, telling someone “It is God’s will” is presumptuous and probably heretical.
fourth, telling someone “it will be all right” is uncharitable and about as helpful as saying “have a nice day” to someone in pain.

It’s like the gospel teaching about building your house (life) on a firm foundation (Chirst). If you build your house on sand (trusting in anything or anyone apart from Christ) then the storms of life will knock it down. Unfortunately, the majority of people place their trust in idols (fame, fortune, power, sex, whatever) and when the trials of life come they find they have no legs to stand. Instead of trusting Christ that there is more to life than the here and now (eternal life), they seek oblivion either through the numbing effects of drugs or by trying to end their pain through suicide. It’s not God’s failure but rather people’s lack of faith. The power of faith allows people to see past the temporal pain, terrible though it may be at times, to an eternal hope that cannot fade.

I understand. I, too, have been there and will undoubtedly be there again. It’s terribly difficult and there are no ‘pat’ answers. Everything everyone has said in response is true, and yet it leaves so much unsaid. It is Mystery…

To take the converse of what you are asking would be a scenario where God would jump in everytime someone ‘hit their wall’ and make it all ok. We know that’s not right, so the answer lies elsewhere and we probably won’t really get it until we see it with Him, on the other side.

Until then, we do our best and I do think those that talked of handling it with God’s grace and strength (and not our own) are getting close to the mark. For me, I was convinced (and told God) that He had me confused with some great saint! That I could not handle what He was giving me and He had the wrong person! But I kept praying and most of all trusting and hoping (hoping when there is no hope; trusting Him when trusting Him is the hardest thing of all!) and, little by little, I am learning that He has a lot more faith in me than I do. In a weird way, that’s comforting and puts me in touch with His strength.

But it’s not easy. It’s not even close to easy. It’s so hard you want to give up and die (except then you’re afraid of hell, right?) :rolleyes:

I meditate a lot, at those times, of Gethsemane. So far I have not been afraid or upset or depressed enough to sweat blood, so I guess I can hang on when it gets rough.

I will remember you and your needs in my prayer:)

Suicides often happen because people have mental health issues combined with a lack of compassion and care, or due to extreme pressures to which they can’t seem to find a solution to, or they don’t feel like there is anywhere to turn to help. One of the problems with modern society and the decline of religion is many support structures and networks which existed to help those in need have been dismantled or heavily fragmented, and the breakdown of the family and the transience of many relationships in modern society, combined with a corporate culture aimed at making a profit rather than helping others, acts in a way as ‘structures of sin’ (as John Paul astutely called them) which undermine human dignity in countless ways and weaken or tempt people into evil or patterns of self-destructive behaviour which wear them down and destroy them. Drug abuse is a complicated matter but often involves a vortex of secular recreational attempts to ‘transcend’ the self and its problems without God or religion, addictions to pleasure, various social vices (crime, poverty, unemployment) which all combine to draw people into a social web of evil which is very dangerous and tangled. Quite often the two are linked together, particularly where addiction is involved.

The fact people are in need of help because of drug abuse/risk of suicide is not something we should ask God for allowing to happen, rather it should waken the spirit of compassion, justice and charity within us to get up on our feet and do something about it. Many Catholics are not afraid to speak up about abortion and contraception, so the same should apply against drug trafficking, poverty caused by social injustice, evils such as unemployment or underemployment which rob people of the means to support themselves and their families, and so on. One of the finest and most beautiful things about the church is its concerns for the poor and marginalised in society down the ages, and the modern evils of suicide and drug addiction and their root causes offer an excellent chance to continue this.

Years ago I read Rabbi Kushner’s book When Bad Things Happen to Good People which is very good and deals with this topic. If I recall right he said early in his rabbinate he told a bereaved mother God wouldn’t give her more than she could bear and she said, "So if I were a little weaker, my son would be alive?"
For me that hits the nail on the head with this supposedly comforting idea.

To me the idea “sends” us evil at all is offensive. But when He gave us free will he circumscribed His own omnipotence. He is helpless to stop us from committing evil. Say a man is intent on molesting his daughter; I’m sure God tries to reach his (probably hardened) heart to prevent it, but He cannot hit him with a lightning bolt.
And the daughter, in her ordeal, is probably going to be hard for God to reach with His grace as well. But we know he is making the effort in both cases. I use this example because a very large number of drug addicts and suicides have undergone child abuse

Why do people feel a need to tell other people this - that if God gave this to you, He must see you as strong enough to carry it? Or, they also say that “everything will be okay”. How can they say this? How do they know? I bet the mother of the latest person executed on death row probably had someone tell this to her while she was crying about her child, “everything will be okay.” Everything is NOT okay in this world.

I dunno. People feel compelled to say something “comforting”, even something stupid. I’ve heard priests tells the parents of dead infants “God just wanted to take her home with Him.” or “He’s an angel now.” (patently not true).

I have a hard time reconciling the idea of an omnibenevolent deity with certain passages in the Old Testament (all quotes from the NAB):

Jeremiah 23:11-12: Both prophet and priest are godless! In my very house I find their wickedness, says the LORD. Hence their way shall become for them slippery ground. In the darkness they shall lose their footing, and fall headlong; Evil I will bring upon them: the year of their punishment, says the LORD.

Lamentations 3:37-38: Who commands so that it comes to pass, except the Lord ordains it; Except it proceeds from the mouth of the Most High, whether the thing be good or bad!

Amos 3:6: If the trumpet sounds in a city, will the people not be frightened? If evil befalls a city, has not the LORD caused it?

Isaiah 45:7: I form the light, and create the darkness, I make well-being and create woe; I, the LORD, do all these things.

What is the reasoning behind these? All are quite explicit in showing God as an active, not a passive, agent.

From life in general, I really do not see much of anything backing up the idea that God, if he exists, is truly all-good.

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