Why Does God Allow Tragedies?

Is God to be blamed for human suffering? Many Christians are carried away, and get lost in the midst of questions that have no answers.  

Newsroom  (01/04/2022 09:48, Gaudium Press) I have a sister who is a little older than I am: a woman of faith, who never starts the day without a period of meditation and prayers. She confesses regularly and attends the sacraments in a godly way. She is a woman capable of awakening faith in others through her own faith.

Last weekend we spoke on the phone and her words caused me concern, providing a glimpse of what is happening not only to her, but to many people. The faith of many seems to be shaken.

At the very beginning of our conversation, I noticed in her voice that something was not right. Since we are not so young anymore, I thought that she might be having some health problem, but it was not that. Or rather, it was, but not of physical health. My sister is sick in the soul and this is a difficult disease to cure, because those who are affected by it often do not even realize it.

Like bodily diseases, soul diseases are studied and causes are often well known. What I could do at that moment was to listen to my sister to try to understand what was going on. Since she is a strong person who has faced and survived many adversities well, I knew that the cause of her apathetic state of mind was not just any one thing.

The actions of men

She started talking about the war and asking me if I had seen such and such a video, heard such and such news, and went on to unravel sad situations and shocking episodes. Like most people, I have been following the events in Ukraine and their developments, mainly because my job requires a constant update on the most relevant events.

However, I noticed that my sister was much more immersed than me in this reality and, worse, that she had no filter to protect her. She was seeing everything, drinking from the most varied sources and, as I have already written here, this war has made so many “experts” in geopolitics, military strategies, eschatology and possible outcomes that, if we don’t take care of ourselves, we will end up losing our peace and balance amidst this bombardment of contradictory and mismatched information,

After my sister had mentioned everything that distressed her about the war, she began to talk about the news that was closer to her: a 12-year-old girl who disappeared after going out to buy soft drinks in a suburb of São Paulo and was found dead a few days later; a 13-year-old boy who, after being forbidden to use a cell phone, shot at his family, killing his mother and little brother and seriously wounding his father, who is in danger of becoming paraplegic. He spoke of women killed by their husbands or boyfriends, of a young man of 22 who was shot dead at close range during a traffic fight in Paraná, and of the plane crash in China that killed 132 people.

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Before I could say anything, she blurted out: “Oh, my brother, I am so sad, so discouraged! I haven’t been able to leave the house for more than 20 days. I don’t even go to mass. In fact, I’m not even able to pray anymore!” Hearing this was a shock to me, after all, my sister never leaves her room in the morning before saying her first rosary and other daily prayers.

I started a sentence, which she certainly didn’t hear, as she gave her last breath of despair: “I don’t understand why God allows these things! Doesn’t He see our suffering? This violence? This tragedy of the flood in Petropolis, which has killed more than 200 people. And in the Ukraine? Those destroyed cities, those people who lost everything, without food, without water, having to flee…”

I tried to bring her to her senses, “Don’t say such a thing, my sister! Don’t blame God! Everything that is happening is the result of men’s actions!”

Two wars

I reminded her of what Our Lady said at Fatima, of the punishments that would come upon mankind if there was no repentance, penance, and conversion. Of the need for the consecration of Russia to Her Immaculate Heart, which has remained undone since 1917, more than 100 years to fulfill such a simple request from the Mother of God! Simple, but of fundamental importance, because she warned that Russia would spread its errors throughout the world and that this would provoke many wars.

Our conversation took place exactly on March 25, a few hours after the consecration ceremony of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In a low voice, showing all the pain that was in her soul, my sister said: “I attended the ceremony. But I don’t know… Was it worth it? Isn’t it too late now?”

We stayed on the phone for about an hour. At the end, she seemed more relieved and a little less sad, but, this conversation impacted me a lot. I decided to write about it because what is happening in my sister’s heart is happening in the hearts of many Christians. For those who don’t believe, we are just watching an intricate game of chess, in which there is a lot of talk about the need to end the war, but deep down it seems to be empty rhetoric. If we look at the situation dispassionately, we can see that there seems to be a certain desire or need for the war to continue…

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In fact, we are facing two wars, that of Vladimir Putin against Ukraine, and that of economic interests, a war – apparently – without tanks, without missiles, without bombs and without rifles, but with a power as or more devastating than what we have seen in the trails of destruction left by the confrontation of the two armies of the once brotherly countries. So, for those who don’t believe, it is just a matter of watching the game to see who moves the next piece on the board.

For those who believe and those who don’t, those who live jumping from one branch to another, between one ideology and another, opinions vary. Some think that God doesn’t have enough power to change things; others think that He doesn’t care, and others believe that He is punishing us, but they don’t agree with this and confuse the Lord of the Universe with the pseudo-conservatism of convenience that is rampant in some parts of the world.

Tragedies: Is God to Blame?

What really worries me, and obviously not only me, a mere speck of dust in the economy of life, but all those who take religion seriously, is exactly what is happening to many Christians who are letting themselves be contaminated, getting carried away, and getting lost in the midst of questions that have no answers. The Holy Scriptures tell us that we don’t even understand what goes on on Earth, let alone understand the things in Heaven.

The tragedies that we are living through, and that have made my sister’s soul and those of so many other people sick, are things of the Earth, but they have a close connection with the things of Heaven. God is not responsible for the war, for the airplane crashes, for the traffic fights that result in death, for the parents’ loss of capacity to educate their children, for the violence against women, and even for many catastrophes, such as those caused by floods. But none of this is beyond His control. Everything was foreseen, which does not mean that God designed these things. He is timeless, and sees life unfolding without past, present or future, as we do. He always knew that all these things would happen, and He forewarned us about them.

The prophets talked about it. Our Lord Jesus Christ spoke extensively about it, about famine, weather phenomena, plagues, war and rumors of war. No one is ignorant of this reality and each generation lives a piece of this trajectory. But, what caused all these things was sin, and what fuels and precipitates them continues to be sin. And, if we think we have not sinned, at least we should admit that by not condemning sin, we are colluding with it. Sometimes we may not have the courage to commit it, but without realizing it, we may even admire and envy those who do.

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It is important that Russia be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, after all, She herself asked for this to be done. But, how many other things did She ask for? Things that concern each one of us, things that do not need a solemn ceremony presided over by the Supreme Pontiff, but require our firm and courageous attitude. Small things like care in dressing.

Satan roars around us

At the beginning of this article, I said that soul diseases have been studied for their root causes and that there is a causative agent. This causative agent has a name. In fact, it has several names. One of them is Satan, and he roars around us, and does much more than the Russian army to invade and destroy the territory of our soul. And, let’s not fool ourselves, we will never be able to fight bravely and win this war if we do not unconditionally surrender our lives to God.

Those who do not believe and those who jump from branch to branch, from ideology to ideology, trying to scrutinize God’s motives, believing that He has abandoned mankind to all sorts of misfortunes, these are of little importance to the devil, because he has already co-opted them. The one who truly matters to the devil is you who believe, but who have allowed yourself to be shaken, just like my dear sister.

Therefore, just as I said to her, I also dare to say to you: use these last days of Lent to make an accurate examination of conscience and sincerely ask God for forgiveness in case it has ever crossed your mind that He is responsible for all that we are living. And I leave, for your meditation, a thought from the book “Imitation of Christ”, one of the great works of Christianity:

Blessed is simplicity, which leaves the difficult paths of questions to walk in the flat and firm path of God’s commandments. Many have lost devotion because they have wanted to investigate too much into very high things. […] For the enemy does not tempt the infidels and sinners, who already have them secure; but the devout faithful he tempts and torments in various ways.”

By Afonso Pessoa

Compiled by Roberta MacEwan

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