Thanksgiving Question

A question from an agnostic (raised Catholic) friend: if God is to be thanked for our successes and joys, is God to be blamed by us for unfair sufferings??? I have often told him that our sufferings are usually the fault of human sin etc. Nonetheless we go round and round on this. Any apologetics wisdom would be appreciated.

(I should add my friend went to a school where sexual abuse by clergy occurred to boys he knew but I am not sure whether he was or was not a victim himself)

Our suffering comes from our “fallen nature.” God gave us free will and asks us to use it wisely. When we don’t, it means that there will be suffering. Sometimes that suffering comes from someone else’s screw up. God allows this because if we are to love him, there must be the choice between loving him and not loving him. When we say we love him, then our deeds must show it. If we don’t treat each other in a loving way, then our words are wasted. And suffering is a direct result.

I know this is a poor attempt, but I hope it helps.:shrug:

Suppose a wolf’s paw were caught in a trap, and you came by to try to help him. Try as you may, when you reached for the trap to set him free, he snapped at you each and every time, in fear, agony, trembling. If only this poor wolf knew that you were helping him!

Eventually he becomes so weak he just lies there, petrified, in fear and suffering as you open the trap. It hurts so much! What could this human possibly be doing but tormenting me? Yet now he is set free, and perhaps you take it to a vet to bandage its paw-- yet more horror! Yet more bewilderment!

The difference between the wolf’s comprehension of man and man’s of God is astounding, but probably quite similar.

God wills no evil to befall a person. Then why do “evil” things happen? Each and every thing is done for us by the benevolence of God. If we are happy, it is for our sake, if we suffer, it is also for our sake.

When Nebuchadnezzar attacked the Israelites, was he not God’s instrument? And when Cyrus freed them, was he not also God’s instrument? Both were for the benefit of the Israelites, even if the benefit was hard to perceive, and even if it meant death. You don’t know why God permits a child to suffer abuse its entire life, treated like an animal and never seeing another human being other than its brutal parents-- but you must trust that God has a special purpose for the child. The sufferings of this world are nothing to the joys of the future one.

This does not excuse Nebuchadnezzar. God knew he wanted to sin, so he used it to his own purposes. Nebuchadnezzar is still guilty for his sin, though good came of it. If he had not chosen to sin, God simply would have punished the Israelites some other way.

Who spares his son the rod, hates him! A proverb.

Be it done unto me according to thy word. Not my will, but thine be done. Through Mary’s acceptance of God’s plan for her, she met incredible joy that gave birth to new life, the ultimate good. Through Jesus’ acceptance of God’s plan for him, he met incredible sorrow (even unto death!) such that he sweat blood from his body… but it gave birth to new life, the ultimate good.

I realize these thoughts are scattered but I am shy for time. Trust in God.

A monk gave me a little book: Conformity to the Will of God (drawn chiefly from the writings of St Alphonsus Liguori.) Give it a read if you find it.

[Afterthought: it also reminds me of an old tv show, where a man was angry with God because of several things. A girl had died and he blamed himself for it, another girl was stuck all day working to support her family, and a gas station was closed down when he wanted gas. When God gave him the opportunity to change these things, the past, alas! the young working girl was not working, but instead was almost a slave driver, a vicious and mean little thing, for it was the work she did for her family that made her so kind, and gave her purpose.

The man at the gas station who used to fish on his days off worked himself into the grave since our friend had wished the gas station be open every day! Those days off were important for his heart.

The other girl who had died, well, she died despite his efforts to change the past.

What a mess! I only wanted to ease suffering, our friend thought… lucky for him, God returned things to be the way they had been, and he understood better that God’s providence is perfect.]

There is a story about an old rabbi who ran some sort of shop for a living. He was in the store sweeping up, in his tattered clothes. A young man ran in and asked him what he should do about some bad things that were happening. Knowing that God wills or permits everything, the old rabbi said, “I don’t know. Nothing bad has ever happened to me.”

In the book of Job, he has a lot of misfortune and loses just about everything. His wife is pestering him “curse God and die.” Job replied, “if we accept the good from the Lord, should we not also accept the bad?”

A general rule is that when we experience misfortune, God is testing us, testing our faithfulness. How will you respond? Your response depends on your faith.

I have given the Romans 8 style answers but am not sure they are persuasive.

Thanks for all your help.

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