Chaplain (Capt.) Samuel Olmos
North Community Deputy Chaplain
You ever wonder why our world just seems so messed up some times?
Take, for instance, the American Soldier in Afghanistan who snuck out of his camp, entered several Afghani homes and shot to death 16 women and children. How disturbing is that?
How great the suffering?
It’s the 21st century, and we still have not found the cure for crazy. In the past several decades, we’ve seen impressive advancements in technology, science and medicine, but advancements that counter violence and oppression are slow in coming.
What about the cure for pain and suffering?
Theologians have long wrestled with the question, “Why pain and suffering?” Is God allowing us to suffer? What does God think of human suffering?
When I was in seminary, our professor passed around a very disturbing picture. Remember that iconic picture of the vulture stalking the dying African child in the Sudan? Sure you do! It’s the one of the starving African child in southern Sudan who is curled up on the ground while a vulture stands a few feet away ready to eat him.
Well, that sad picture went around our seminary classroom. We were instructed to say the first thing that came to mind. Many students blurted out the question, “Why does God allow this to happen?” One student stoically expressed the idea that even vultures needed to eat. I didn’t have anything profound to say besides, “That’s sad.”
I’ll never forget the wise words of this pastor colleague. He said, “I bet God is wondering, ‘Why do humans allow this?’”
It made sense. How much of the pain and suffering are we responsible for? I would argue that we are responsible for a larger amount of pain and suffering than we give ourselves credit. A vast amount of suffering could be cured if we took action.
Let me pick on the church and religion. James 1:27 states that “faultless religion looks after the orphans and widows in their distress.” This verse is a call to care for the weak and helpless in our community.
I wonder how many times God asks the question, “Why does the church allow this?”
I know we can be better than this.