Suffering is but another name for the teaching of experience, which is the parent of instruction and the schoolmaster of life —Horace, Ancient Roman Poet
Yesterday, while taking my dog Jake for a walk, I ran into a neighbor of mine (we’ll call her Jane). She is in her early 90’s and is such a beautiful, kind soul. She always greets me with a smile and never has a bad thing to say about anyone.
I hadn’t seen Jane in quite a while and greeted her with a hug. We stood on the sidewalk catching up and the conversation eventually turned to my book writing. Jane wanted to know if I had written anymore books and I told her about Divine Visits, my recently released book about angelic and divine interventions. As we talked about the book, she asked why I wrote it.
“Because miracles do happen, Jane,” I told her. I went on to tell her about my own breast cancer scare and the divine intervention I had experienced in the midst of completing the book. Suddenly, her eyes saddened and I could sense the weight of her heavy heart. “I’ve lost faith in God,” she told me sadly. She went on to tell me about how her niece tragically saw her daughter die after being hit by a car. Her niece, she said, was picking her daughter up from school.
Jane went on to explain how her niece, consumed with grief, later committed suicide. And as if that weren’t enough, she then continued telling me how some time later she had made plans with one of her best friends to bake one day. Arriving with another friend, they found the door locked. When their friend didn’t answer, they eventually went home.
Later she received a phone call from her friend’s daughter. Sadly, her friend, too, committed suicide. Jane was clearly heartbroken and upset. I put my arms around her to comfort her as she continued. “Her daughter actually yelled at me that day because she said we should have opened the garage door. Maybe we would have found her in time.
“So I’ve lost faith in God,” she told me. “Why do these things happen?”
Feeling the pain in her voice, I asked her if she felt that God was responsible for all the bad things that happen in life. Jane didn’t answer me but only waited for me to continue.
Let me pause here to say evil and all the misfortunes we see in this world are not part of God’s plan. God does not cause all these bad things to happen to us. Why would an all loving God cause evil or pain in this world?
Personally, I think most of us know God doesn’t cause our misfortunes. It is only natural that we get angry when bad things happen and who better to blame then God, right? Two weeks ago, I had to have surgery to remove a cancerous mole. Since first being diagnosed with melanoma in 2000, I have had many surgeries and often say that I feel like a piece of Swiss cheese because of all the scars on my body.
As I once again waited impatiently for the biopsy results, I went through a whirlwind of emotions: hurt, sadness, fear, anger, etc. Was I mad at God? No. But I was feeling sorry for myself. I was angry because I had to go through this ordeal yet again. Yesterday, I was back in the doctor’s office. I developed some sort of a reaction and my incision is now all puffy and red.
Is it uncomfortable? Yes, it is. Am I irritated? Yes, I am. Did God cause this? No, He did not. When I was young, I was a little sun Goddess. I loved to bath in the sun with my mother. I have light, sensitive skin and would often burn. But this didn’t stop me from continuing to lay in the sun. I am going through this because of choices I made in the past.
And what happens in the future will depend on the choices that I make today. Think of it this way. We live in a world of both good and bad. It’s part of the natural laws of the universe. But if you take a good look at your life, you will likely see that more good has happened than bad.
These bad things don’t make us lose our faith, we choose to. And we chose to because of all the hurt and the anger. A few years ago, I was going through a very tough time. I was angry about a lot of things going on in my life. I didn’t agree with some of the practices at my church. So what did I do? I stopped going to church.
Then during lent that year, my friend Christina told me that she wanted me to go to church every day during lent. Did I listen? Yes, and I’m so glad I did. Going back to church helped me to face the anger that I was feeling and also helped me to realize that I was taking it out on the wrong person, God!
In life, we experience highs and lows. Suffering and love. We can’t experience love without suffering and we can’t experience suffering without love. Good and bad. Yin and Yang. It’s part of the human experience. How we react to what happens to us will determine what we get out of our lifetime and the lessons learned. So I ask again, does God cause our misfortunes? No, He doesn’t.
Yesterday, as I stood there talking to my neighbor, I did my best to explain why she shouldn’t blame God for all the bad in this world. Jane looked at me and said, “You know I have to read your book.” I smiled back, “I’ll tell you what. If you promise me that you’ll read the book, I will give you a copy. OK?”
She came forward to give me a hug. “OK. I will,” she promised.
As I walked away feeling love in my heart and much lighter than I did before our encounter, I turned back to her and said, “Don’t lose faith, Jane.” To this she gave me an adorable smile and wink of her eyes, “I won’t, Josie. I won’t.”