Where is the Creator when things seem to suck?

I know. That is the age old question, right? All of us who already believe in a Higher Power and even some who don’t have no problem dreaming one up when things seem to be going particularly well.  But what about the rest of the time?

How do we understand our lives when things seem to be going all okey dokey for us and we look over at our neighbor, say our international neighbor, like in Ukraine for instance, and see they are living in the worst sort of hell, and think there is some sort of pattern, some sort of sense to it all?  It doesn’t make sense that a loving Creator would play favorites, does it?

Or, how are we to understand the fact that if I am sick or my job is lost but someone else is dealing with having their child murdered by police, that there is balance in that suffering?  How are both equally valid and equally important heart aches? And I have to add an edit here, earthquake’s, absolutely nothing we can do about those, yet they tear apart families and communities, much like war.

This is all very confusting, isn’t it?  I think we all ask these questions. For many, that is where their journey with any kind of faith just ends. They realize there is no logic and find it cruel and hypocritical.  I totally understand that. In fact, I feel that.

Yet, I have faith.  Why?  That is the ineffable part! Did I get to that by going to church or to temple services?  Maybe.  Did I get there by reading sacred texts and really tryng to understand them in their historical context and source langauges? Somewhat.  As I have said here before, music,  choral, classical, oratorio: That too.  I think if I tell the truth I got there through all of those things and a few others and just a bone deep conviction.   I can say I was “strangely warmed” like John Wesley described, at a very early age.  Let me back over that one.

John Wesley, and his brother, Charles, were 18th century Anglican priests. They were also PKs (their father was a minister as well).  While studying for their orders at Oxford, both brothers were struck by the corruption and insincerity of their fellow priests in training, the Anglican church as a whole and not surprisingly, they wanted to do better.  They never intended to create an entirely different denomination of Christianity, but that is their legacy.  At Oxford they formed an accountability group where they would check in with one another, and other like minded students, as to how they were living their devout Christian lives.   Because of this serious mindedness they were labeled as “Methodists” by their fellow students.  (Please excuse this very boiled down history of people I find were fascinating and the movement they started is also fascinating).  At any rate, after a two year appointment to a parish across the pond in Savannah, Georgia, John Wesley returned to London and began attending prayer meetings with Moravian Christians. It was during one of these meetings that he reported being, “strangely warmed.” In other words, he felt touched by the Almighty, Jesus, God, Yaweh etc., in his heart.  Or, in a more humorous version; he wet his pants:).

So all of that possibly boring history of the foundation of the Methodist church is my way of explaining that I have felt “strangely warmed” on numerous occasions. Does that just mean I am impressionable?  Or, do I have an over active imagination? For the completely logical and cynical, that would appear to be the case. Also, please don’t forget where we started this whole thing: Why do bad things happen to good people?

For me, the sense I have had that there is definitely a presence that is greater than me does not preclude the fact that, well, shit happens. I may find it depressing and be angered by it and ask why, but I don’t believe there is some sort of bad intent on the part of the Diety.  We are not immune from the shit life throws our way just because we believe.  I also don’t believe that bad things happen ‘for a reason.’ That is crappy theology. Bad things just happen because we are imperfect beings who are learning and don’t always get it right.  We are in that sense, children, or sheep.  Do you know how dumb sheep are?  I do.  I have hung out with sheep, I know sheep and they know me, and let me tell you, it is no compliment that we are compared to them multiple times in the primary text for all three Abrahamic religions: Islam, Judaism and Christianity.  In fact, it is downright rude.


Have I made any sense here?

I am trying to say that G-d does not cause us pain and suffering and G-d can’t stop our pain and suffering.  I know that is bad news.  However, I think G-d can make it more understandable.  We can find meaning in the shittiest of things when we know that despite it all, we are still on G-d’ s prayer list!

We are still loved and we can still experience divine love directly through the love of those who care for us and reach out to us in the worst of circumstances.  In fact, I believe that is our duty, our reason for being.  As a Jew, I am commanded by my Covenant with the Almighty to reach out and lift up my fellow human beings, no matter who they are.  I am not supposed to discriminate on the basis of ANYTHING.  I like that approach.  It is a bit overwhelming but I get it.

There is work to be done and that work always takes us beyond ourselves and our own fears and pain and sadness.  There is no better exlixir than to look at our fellow humans and see them as thet are, as we all are: children of the same Creator, and deserving of the unconditional love we receive from the Creator.

I know that sometimes this doesn’t work too well.  All we can do is try.  And, all we can do is look for those opportunities to be “strangely warmed” when we need it most.