Very bad things do happen to very good people

15 Dec

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Times of trial try the faith of the believer. Christina Ng of Good Morning America reports in the article, Priest’s ‘Horrible’ Job Telling Parents of Children’s Deaths:

A Newtown, Conn., priest had the “horrible” job of informing families this morning that their children had been killed in the elementary school massacre.

There were 20 children among the 27 people brutally killed the day Adam Lanza, 20, invaded Sandy Hook Elementary School and opened fire on staff and students. Lanza was also found dead in the school.

Medical examiners have completed the grim work of identifying all of the victims at the school and families were informed early this morning that their loved ones had been killed.

“We were gathered until after midnight and we were sent out with teams to go to the homes of the victims,” parish priest Monsignor Robert Weiss told “Good Morning America” today. “We went to their homes early this morning to confirm the death of their children and it was just horrible.”–abc-news-topstories.html

It could have been a priest, it could have been a rabbi, it could have been a minister or the head of a Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim or Sikh temple. It could have been some person of no faith who would see the Sandy Hook massacre as one more reason not to believe. It is at times when one tries to fathom the death of children with reasons known only to the tortured soul of the killer that folks first ask why and then go on to what it is they believe.

REM poses the question for many in their ditty “Losing My Religion”

Oh life, it’s bigger
It’s bigger than you
And you are not me
The lengths that I will go to
The distance in your eyes
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I set it up

That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep a view
And I don’t know if I can do it
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough….

Some of those who suffer unfathomable lose will indeed lose their religion, while other will find their faith. The answer depends on the question that they ask.

The question is an age old question which is why do bad things happen to good people? Job asked this very question of God. Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote the 1978 book When Bad Things Happen to Good People which attempted to explain why good people suffer.

Kushner outlines the various ways that people try to salvage their view of God and His orderly world. They explain that misfortune occurs because

  1. Someone made a mistake, or failed in the observance of some religious duty.
  2. God has a hidden purpose, or is making use of knowledge we don’t have.
  3. Suffering itself will turn out to be good for us.
  4. God’s purpose is in the grand design of the Universe (which is good and beautiful), not in the life of the individual.
  5. Suffering teaches something, either to us or to those who see us suffer.
  6. Suffering is a test.
  7. Death leads us and our loved ones to a better place.

Kushner rejects all of these explanations.

“All the responses to tragedy which we have considered have at least one thing in common. They all assume that God is the cause of our suffering, and they try to understand why God would want us to suffer. … There may be another approach. Maybe God does not cause our suffering. Maybe it happens for some reason other than the will of God.”

Modern society is loath to deal with the concept of evil, because evil cannot be treated with Prozac, or therapy, or meditation. It is simply easier to hold God responsible and walk away.

Over the next months and years many will be losing their religion and many others will find their faith. Because of the evil that exists in the world, some very bad things happen to some very good people.

Where information leads to Hope. ©                 Dr.

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