If God is good, why so much suffering?

How can we understand suffering, pain, abuse?

What is our healthiest, most therapeutic reaction?

When a child is hurt a parent usually suffers with the child. The parent immediately helps: kiss the hurt, band-aid, but if worse calls for help. Responders can relieve pain of the child, but the parent may continue to feel hurt, anger. Is it possible that the One who is the Ground of our Being is a parent as Jesus taught? It is hard to grasp that the Eternal One is a parent who feels and acts as the best of parents.

Many people assume God is omnipotent and/or omniscient — all-powerful, all-knowing, everywhere. But Jesus taught us to think of God as our parent — a theme rooted in much of the later Jewish Scriptures where God is Sophia-Wisdom — God and spirit are feminine, Our God is not omnipotent or omniscient, but a God who feels and cares and loves!

Why do we suffer? We live on a living, vibrant, moving planet. Diseases, virus, germs are omniscient! Have you seen pictures or read about the mid Atlantic rift? Several thousand feet below the surface of the sea chimneys several feet tall spout what looks like smoke, but is heat and chemicals from within the earth slipping out where tectonic plates meet. Creatures unlike any we know thrive there. Our planet is a wild place with epidemics, wild weather, earthquakes, tsunamis. Is this the nature of a living planet?

We live lives subject to disease and epidemics. We drive cars that weigh two tons a few feet from trucks weighing many times as much; do we know what happens if they touch? We know thousands die yearly in auto and bike wrecks. Disease, wrecks, death happen! Yet we let — or encourage — our children to play video games in which they kill and destroy. Many children are abused, and often want to get even against authority figures. In a prison the hundreds convicted of rape had all been sexually abused as boys. And we ask why people are victimized. Should we ask why a good God lets these things happen, or ask why we let them happen?

How do we respond to tragedy? When our first-born was about four he called out just after bedtime. When we rushed in, he told us to get rid of the monster in the closet. I said, “You tell the monster!” He sat up straight, looked at the closet, and said in his strongest voice, “Monster, stay in the closet,” fell back and was asleep in minutes — with a kiss from each of us. God as Parent, Sophia-Wisdom, helps us to overcome our monsters and comforts us.

Our son is an alcoholic. My wife and I first realized it soon after high school in his late teens. That began a difficult, contentious, time of life. Since my father was an alcoholic and later became an AA, I knew quite a bit about alcoholism and how to relate to an alcoholic. My wife was co-dependent, so we had many difficult discussions about how to help our son. We both knew that we could not “fix him,” and do little to help him. As outlined in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, the alcoholic must take clear steps. Finally, after difficult years for him and for us, our son started recovery through Alcoholics Anonymous. Is this a summary of how we deal with evil and the limits God feels in helping us?

Our relation to this God is somewhat like insurance we carry against tragedy; the insurance does not prevent tragedy — though some agents may show us how to prevent it — but insurance gives us the resources to rebuild out of the wreckage. Read Proverbs 8 for how God wants to work with us to build and rebuild.

Did God in Jesus become a carpenter because they plan, build and craft? Does this unique God want us to think of a Carpenter-Parent-God to trust in who rebuilds out of the wreckage!