The problem of pain
I had watched the news replay over and over the re-enactment of a woman drowning her own children all in the same week one of my close friends had lost the baby that she longed for.
It was so bitterly unfair.
It was evil.
And as I watched my own small children play, I realized how tenuous it all was.
If the job description of a God is that he runs things, then surely, He could do a better job than this.
How could good and suffering co-exist?
I remember being silent at God.
I had heard the words that cut me like a knife as realization set in that what I loved was gone. That it probably never existed in the first place.
It was so incredibly painful.
I started shaking and felt sick inside.
When suffering strikes so close to home, abject accusations of God dissolve. You just feel betrayed.
No co-existing of good and suffering. Just searing pain.
We all have these scenes.
There is no immunity card that lets us skate through life unharmed.
From the massive injustices like massacre and famine to the more personal ones of rejection or disease, suffering sits in stark juxtaposition to joy.
And we all wonder why, because it feels so wrong.
Witnessing other's pain makes us afraid. We don't feel safe. And so we judge. And mostly we judge in a way that puts us across some line that makes it so the pain won't touch us. We craft an idea that x is happening because of y and because we are neither x nor y we are safe. The cognitive gymnastics make us feel better.
Living in our own pain just makes us hurt. We can get stuck in anger or bitterness (usually driven by feeling that our x/y beliefs were violated); we can anesthetize (with drugs/alcohol or a distraction of choice) or we can simply feel it. If we choose to feel it, pain works in us. It changes how we see ourselves and the world we live in.
Why is pain the tool that does this?
I don't know. But I do know I have yet to meet a person of great insight who has not been touched by incredible pain. I also know that pain exposes all of our ridiculous x/y ideas to put new possibilities on the table. Possibilities we could have never even grasped in our previous framework.