Like so many of you, I woke up this morning wanting to discuss the age-old question of why God allows there to be evil in the world. (I’m right about this, aren’t I? I mean, the Emmys are so last night.) Anyway, unlike most people, I had the advantage of reading “The Problem of Evil” by Sister Bernadette Reis at Busted Halo. She writes:
In my late 20s, I began manifesting symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I had been attacked twice at knifepoint as a child and was able to keep the memories pretty well tucked into my unconscious, but at a certain point my unconscious won. As I began sifting through the memories and the pain, I also began experiencing tremendous anger toward God. How could he ever let something like that happen to me?
‘God, where were you?’
Many people have confronted this same dilemma. We call it the problem of evil. How can an all-loving, completely good God allow evil to happen to his children? The response that I had heard repeatedly was, unfortunately, only a portion of St. Thomas Aquinas’ treatment of the problem of evil: God permits evil in order to bring good out of it. I had always accepted this answer, until I had to confront the reality of evil head-on in my own life. And so, I admitted to my spiritual director that I could not agree with that explanation because of my own experience.
His response: If you can’t accept that, what can you accept?
That wasn’t what I expected to hear, but it turned out to be exactly what I needed to hear.
Sister Bernadette began a search for meaning that brought her to a familiar place. She says:
Eventually, this extended search for meaning brought me to a new understanding of the gift of free will. Someone else had abused that gift when they attacked me. That’s what hurt the most — why didn’t God stop that person from hurting me? I began to realize that when God gives a gift, He never takes it away, even if it means that we choose to abuse that gift to harm others. He didn’t even stop the people who killed his own Son. God chose to experience the ultimate, painful, crushing consequences of the gift of free will that He had given to us.
What do you think of her answer? Does it satisfy your intellectually, emotionally?