Does God Let Us Suffer?
by Bob Olson, Editor
If you’re suffering due
to a crisis, tragedy or loss, no doubt you have likely asked yourself,
“If there really is a God, why does He allow us to suffer? Why does He
allow children to starve or die? Why does He allow crime and terrorism?
Why does He allow our loved ones to become ill or have tragic accidents?
Why does He let people struggle financially or become homeless?”
you’re probably wondering why God allows YOU to suffer. You’re a good
person. You might not be perfect, but you’re certainly not evil. So
you’ve probably asked yourself, “Am I being punished? Is God ignoring
my misery for some reason? Why is this happening to me? Why now? And what
did I do to deserve this?”
While many of us have
asked ourselves these questions at various times in our lives, few people
ever learn the answer. Yet there is an answer, and it is incredibly
liberating, even relieving. Not only does it relieve us of our anger
toward God (it’s okay; it’s natural to feel anger toward God), it also
frees us from our frustration and resentment toward the cause of our
suffering—our illness, our injury, our crisis or the person whom we
blame for our tragic circumstances.
I’m an ordinary guy
living a fairly ordinary life. So I’ll be the first to tell you that I
never expected to know the answer to one of life’s most mysterious
questions: Why Does God Let Us Suffer? In fact, I’m not even religious,
so I never expected to be teaching people about God, period.
The truth is that up
until recently I always had a knee-jerk reaction to anyone who used the
word God. I preferred people use words like Universe, Source or Creator.
God seemed way too religious to me. Since I feel that everyone should be
able to choose their own spiritual beliefs, the word “God” always
reminded me of the religion my parents chose for me, and I needed to swing
far away from it for a while before I was ready to finally settle
somewhere in the middle.
I’ve now had a change
of heart. I like the word “God.” It means whatever we want it to mean.
It’s no different than saying Universe, Source or Creator, unless we
give it a meaning that we don’t like. So I use it now to mean the
creative and loving energy of the infinite universe.
The point being that
never in a million years did I expect to find myself talking about the
Purpose Of Suffering by talking about God, but something happened that
changed all that for me. I had a spiritual crisis of sorts—well, another
one—that led me to begin asking these same “Why?” questions for
myself. In early September, my wife, Melissa, was diagnosed with breast
cancer, which got me asking, “Why her? Why now? How can God allow the
healthiest, most loving and compassionate person I know to get cancer?”
To be frank, if I had got
cancer, I wouldn’t have been all that surprised. I’m not sure I would
even have questioned God about it. I eat well but I don’t eat as
healthily as I could. I don’t drink much but I like a glass of wine or
beer every so often. Plus, I like to smoke a cigar now and then, even
though I know the risks. And, although I’ve cut way back, I abused
coffee for years—I’m talking over a pot of coffee a day. Add to all
this my inconsistency at exercise and my workaholic mentality, which
causes me to have a pretty high stress level, and it all shows that I
could be doing more to remain healthy. So I really couldn’t have waved
my fist at God if my health took a dive.
On the opposite hand, my
wife, Melissa, is the epitome of health. She only eats foods that are
healthy, even organic. Not that she deprives herself of a treat now and
then, like chocolate, but it’s seldom and it’s usually the best
chocolate made from 88 percent pure cocoa.
She has also exercised consistently for the past twenty years,
three or four times a week. And she meditates, not that she really needs
to meditate because she is also one of the most peaceful people I know.
Plus Melissa oozes love and compassion for all living beings, human or
animal, which has not only got to be good for her soul but also her
brownie points with the Big Guy, God.
So when Melissa was
diagnosed with breast cancer, I questioned God, though this wasn’t the
first time in my life that I’ve asked the “Why?” questions. In the
past, I had my own suffering through the years, the two most challenging
being a 5-year clinical depression that was so severe that I was out of
work for 4 years and had to get 21 shock treatments, then there was the
loss of my father due to lung cancer when I was 35 and he was just 64
years young. I learned a lot about suffering during those troubling times,
but I was mostly left with more questions than answers in a spiritual
sense. And, boy-o-boy, did I ask the “Why?” questions a lot.
I now recognize that my
depression and my father’s passing were catalysts that led me to
investigate answers to my spiritual questions. And, in 1999, two years
after my father’s passing, I had an experience with a psychic medium—a
reading of spirit communication—that provided me with so much
indisputable evidence that it blew my mind wide open, proving to me that
there was more to life and death than I had ever allowed my skeptical mind
This spiritual experience
then led me to explore other spiritual experiences such as past-life
regression, guided meditation, medical intuition and aura clearing, and
some of them taught me even more spiritual insights that I had never
before allowed myself to believe. All the same, despite my research and
exploration in the field of spirituality from 1999 to 2008, nothing I
learned or experienced, in itself, gave me the answer to the Spiritual
Purpose of Suffering. In fact, I even surrendered to the possibility that
I might never find the answer.
At some place along the
way, however, I developed a greater spiritual insight that I can only
assume is due to the accumulation of all my experiences together. There
seemed to be a tipping point that turned my knowledge into a Knowing. And
my spiritual awareness about the particulars of what I’d experienced
became an awareness of a much bigger picture. Although I don’t know when
this actually occurred, I became aware of it the next time I asked the
question, Why Does God Allow Us To Suffer? And I was as surprised as
anyone would be that I had the answer.
It was when Melissa’s
diagnosis arrived that I asked the question again and realized that
something was different from the last time I’d asked it. I actually knew
the answer. Suddenly, there was a shift within me that changed my normal
fear response to a feeling of inner peace. This is when I had what I’ll
call an unexpected download of insight that answered all my questions
about Why God Allows Us To Suffer. And so I began writing these spiritual
I wrote the answers that
were in my head. I couldn’t stop, even though I really didn’t have the
time for it. I didn’t write nonstop; I wrote a few hours here and there,
though my writing was seriously hindered by my responsibilities of life,
namely my work. Nevertheless, every time I stopped and then started up
again, the answers were right there at the forefront of my mind, just
waiting to be recorded.
I guess I wasn’t
writing fast enough, because, suddenly, as if God wanted me to write these
answers down without interruption, something that would have normally
seemed financially disastrous happened—my current client decided to cut
our contract short halfway through the job. I now had more time to write.
Although this was going
to cost me many thousands of dollars, the bulk of my income for half this
year, I was oddly peaceful about the loss. Deep within me, I understood
why it was happening—I understood why God allowed it. It was as if an
inner peace encompassed me and took away my fear, my worry, and allowed me
to have a depth of knowing that there was a purpose to everything that was
happening, both Melissa’s diagnosis and my financial misfortune. I also
knew I was meant to keep writing these spiritual answers for other people
to learn, as well.
I won’t say I had a
conversation with God like Neale Donald Walsch, although I’m not sure
that the information wasn’t coming to me in the same way. It might just
be a difference in perspective in how we describe it. To me it is more of
a download where the answers to these timeless questions of spirituality
are just there in my head. Suddenly, everything I had learned and
experienced over the past 9 years began to have perfect clarity. What was
once like puzzle pieces that didn’t always fit together now snapped
together precisely to form the big picture; and my questions about
suffering now made sense.
If you’re thinking to
yourself, “Who is he to have these answers?” Well, I’ve asked myself
this same question. I’m just an average guy. I’m not the most
intelligent, the most educated, the most successful or the most talented
in any way. I’m not even gifted like some of the spiritual practitioners
I’ve met. I don’t know why this insight showed up in my brain. But I
guess we could ask the same of many authors and speakers. Who is this one
or that one to know what they know? In true spiritual fashion, and using a
valuable point inspired by Marianne Williamson, who am I NOT to know these
answers? No doubt they are available to all of us, if we ask for them.
If there is one thing
I’ve learned over the years, it’s that if something is helpful or even
life changing to my life, then it will be helpful or even life changing to
other people’s lives, as well. Consequently, knowing how this new
insight has given me a deeper sense of inner peace than I have ever
experienced before—and during a time of crisis in my life, no
less—then I can only assume it can do the same for you or others, which
is why I’m compelled to share it.
I’m not promising a
spontaneous end to your suffering. Suffering has a purpose, so it’s not
meant to be eliminated. But knowing the purpose of suffering, in itself,
takes a lot of the bite out of it. And the spiritual answers to the
“Why?” questions lead us to recognize the message or guidance our
crisis, tragedy or loss is trying to show us, which, subsequently, helps
us to find meaning in it.
Obviously, if you are
grieving the passing of a loved one, no insight is going to bring your
loved one back. If you have lost a leg or arm in some tragic accident,
nothing I can teach you is going to grow it back. These answers will not
undo the tragedies of September 11th, 2001 or those of
Hurricane Katrina or Columbine High School. The benefits of understanding
Why God Allows Suffering is in the perspective shift—your paradigm and
thought transformation—as well as the peace that comes from Knowing (not
just believing) that everything is as it should be.
“Knowing” means that
you know some spiritual truth at a your core, which sits at the most
satisfying level of your being, as opposed to believing what someone else
has told you is true, which sits at an unsatisfying and often frustrating
For me, Knowing the
Purpose Of Suffering has also removed any feelings of separation from God.
I no longer feel alone and, instead, feel guided and loved by God. What I
have learned has not only taught me to diminish my level of suffering by
understanding the purpose of my current challenge, it also has allowed me
to accept it, surrender to it (versus trying to control what cannot be
controlled), and to gain the awareness necessary to move forward, rather
than getting stuck in the chaos and fear caused by my circumstances. With
that said, I must admit that I have to constantly remind myself of this
Knowing (these answers) that I have acquired in order to maintain my inner
peace. Spiritual awareness seems to be a process and not an event.
In a nutshell, what I can
tell you is that we are not being punished or ignored by God when faced
with crisis, tragedy or loss. We are simply spiritual beings having a
physical existence. And we come to this physical dimension because we can
experience things here that are impossible to know in the safe and loving
environment of the spirit world (our true, eternal home). Taken one step
further, we come to this physical dimension to learn and grow from certain
experiences; that is, we come for a purpose. And every event from the
joyful moments to the disheartening ones, from our births to our deaths,
occur with perfect precision so that everyone’s purpose for being here
is supported via an intricate weaving of infinite intelligence.
Every experience, whether
positive or negative on the surface, is leading us toward our purpose for
this life. Some challenges guide us in new directions if we have gotten
off course from our purpose, and some challenges lead us to a new depth of
Knowing in themselves. Our free will gives us choice, but it is exactly
this ability to choose that is often our greatest challenge. Will we
choose to surrender and accept our new circumstances caused by our crisis,
tragedy or loss, or will we choose to live in suffering by focusing on
what was or what will never be again because of what’s happened? There
is meaning in our suffering and it is our choice to fight it and miss out
on this meaning or recognize it and grow from it. The latter choice is
where suffering ends and transformation begins.
I’m still downloading
this information, so it’s clear that these answers are so much more than
a blog. My intention for writing about this here is to give you a glimpse
of the hope, comfort and peace that comes from understanding that God has
not abandoned us in our suffering—that there is purpose in our
misfortunes. Until I am able to put together this information into a more
in-depth lecture, audio program or book, I’m merely hopeful that this
introduction alone might give the right person at the right time the hope
they need to consider that there is purpose in their challenge and that
they are being loved and guided by God (the Universe, Creator or Source)
along the way.
I’ll keep you posted as
things progress. In the meantime, I encourage you to ask for the answers
yourself, as you might be astonished to find that they are right there
inside your head.
My warmest regards,
articles by Bob Olson, visit www.ofspirit.com/bobolson.htm