Photo by MART PRODUCTION
When surrounded by news about killings, wars, and hostility, it becomes easy to question why we still experience sufferings if God exists.
How could a merciful God allow so much suffering and sadness in the world?
One way or another, this question has probably passed our minds. This can be brought out by extreme bouts of sadness or experiencing severe loss and heartbreaks. Either way, most of us have gone down the rough path of suffering that might have led us to question the compassion of our God.
Recent news has caused a massive disturbance in mainstream media, provoking enough sadness and anger in people to fuel this doubt about God’s mercy. On the sixth of October, one of the world’s worst death tolls in a massacre was recorded at a daycare center in Uthai Sawan.
What was the daycare center’s peaceful nap time turned out to be a deadly time that would lead to the ultimate demise of 36 people, 24 of which are children, when an ex-police officer went on a rampage with a handgun and a knife. Among this account was the disturbing death of an eight-month-pregnant teacher and a two-year-old child. Once he was done in the daycare, the gunman went home, where he shot himself after shooting his wife and son.
Heartless. Cruel. Evil. These words aren’t enough to fully encompass the gunman’s nature.
To shoot those defenseless children at their most vulnerable moments is something a man with a heart can do. It’s unimaginable what thoughts he held in his mind as he looked at those children before doing the deed. And it’s immensely heartbreaking and upsetting thinking about what the parents would have gone through upon hearing the news.
Soon after the frenzy from the massacre died down, news about a “miracle toddler” found its way to overshadow the previous report. When the attacker broke in, a three-year-old girl was napping with her blanket protectively around her. However, unlike her friends and teachers, she miraculously survived the ex-police’s rage, thus, receiving the title “miracle toddler.”
Upon hearing her story, many people flooded the news outlets’ comment sections with statements praising God for His merciful act of saving one kid, as though there weren’t other children murdered in broad daylight. As if they hadn’t just mourned the death of 36, the netizens were quick to redirect their attention to the optimism of the so-called miracle.
While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with focusing on the brighter side and recognizing the miraculous moment, crying and praising a merciful God for this does leave a questionable taste knowing what had happened. Multiple commenters shared this sentiment when reading what others had said about the latest news progress. They expressed how off-putting it was to celebrate this news when several others had died.
There’s no denying that God is indeed merciful. He is a loving, kind, and tender God to us, so much so that He laid down His life for us. But when we’re surrounded and bombarded with news about killings, wars, and hostility, it becomes easy to question that if God exists, why do we still experience these sufferings? Why does evil still surround us?
In Bevil Bramwell’s book about Catholic theology, he speaks about the importance of reading the scriptures in strengthening our faith in God. This faith is what’s supposedly saving us from the problems we’re facing and delivering us from evil. However, as we traverse deeper into life and experience more anguish and difficulties, it seems insufficient. Again, it becomes easy for us to question whether this faith is enough to protect us from all the agony life throws at us.
God’s existence doesn’t automatically mean evil will cease to exist. People still suffer from evil. But, at the same time, they can overpower these and learn to be stronger afterward. It isn’t about the existence of suffering that measures God’s presence and love for us. Instead, it’s on how he gives us strength to overcome these.
Suffering has existed even before God. Looking back at the heart of the Bible and Christianity, our God is a God who has also suffered. He was nailed to the cross, where he found his death. He, too, suffered from injustices and brutality from the people around him. He was abandoned and betrayed by friends he trusted and to whom he, in return, was loyal.
The Bible described him as a man of sorrow and familiar with suffering. Hence, we suffer not because God wants us to. But we overcome and manage to cope with all these sufferings because we have a God who has also gone through the most challenging, most painful days of his life.
For light to shine through, there must exist the presence of darkness. For goodness to prevail, we must experience some weight of evil in the world.