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Julie Atkinson wrote:

Hi, guys —

I wondered if you could answer a question for me. I'm Catholic, however I have been questioning my faith because of the following dilemma:

  • If a baby is subjected to sexual abuse or murder, why would God allow such things to occur?
  • Why should a child, who does not have the capacity to sin, bear the trauma of someone else's free will?

Many thanks,

Julie

  { Why would God allow a baby to be sexually abused or murdered? }

Paul replied:

Hi, Julie —

Suffering is a mystery that has the elements of physical or psychological pain, at times, injustice, and confusion in the light of the question of how an all loving, all powerful God could let it happen. Here are five points to think about when pondering the idea of human suffering:

a. The first thing I think we need to realize is that this is God's story, not ours; and however He wants to write it, is His business. He is the author of the universe and of our lives.

b. We realize that God is all-good, all-powerful, and perfect Love. This mist means that whatever He allows to occur is a blessing in disguise or something He can make a greater good come out of.

c. God does not create evil, but allows it. It is man, by his free choices, that spreads evil which sometimes comes in the form of suffering for self or others. God allows it because He can not contradict Himself by taking away man's free-will and its consequences. Persons must be free and because we are all cells in the body of Christ, we are affected by everything everyone else does, for the good or for the bad.

d. The gift of existence is an unimaginably, untenably, wonderful gift. To exist with suffering is infinitely better than to never have never existed at all. Life goes on forever and suffering is but a blip in the screen comparatively.

e. And lastly, no one is perfectly innocent or righteous in the eyes of God, for we are all tainted and imbalanced in some way due to inheriting original sin as being part of Adam. Even the suffering of a small child can serve to make him or her a better person, and vicariously it can win grace for others too.

We can do some speculation though. Since God can see all, suppose, hypothetically, that God foresees that a particular baby would grow up to become prideful and ultimately reject Him, meriting an eternity in hell.

  • Would not a loving Father who foresees this, allow obstacles to thwart that possibility, even if it included much temporal suffering to the person?

  • And if God's foreknowledge sees that because of my eventual stubborn pride, an early death is the only way for me to avoid eternal suffering in hell, should I not see it as an act of mercy of His part to take me as a baby or small child?

A short earthly life with an eternity of blissful happiness in the presence of God in heaven is infinitely better than a long earthly life that leads to an eternity of misery in hell.

  • How do we know what God is doing in the interplay of our free will here on earth and His deep love for us love since only He knows the big picture?

Trust is what is needed, and prayer for having that trust is what is called for.

Put this altogether and you metaphorically have life as a mystery novel that can only be understood when the entire book has been read. God is the author, and perhaps after Christ comes back, we will be able to see the big picture through His eyes and the happy ending that He allowed. Then we might see how apparent injustices like the suffering and death of a child are actually the perfect pieces in God's puzzle of Love.

Hope this helps,

Paul

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