(Mary Beth Bonacci is an internationally known speaker and author. You may visit her website at www.reallove.net.)
The question I always want to ask in response is “What makes you think I would know?”
As much as I'd like to believe that these people find my intellect to be on par with that of the Divine Intelligence, I know not to flatter myself. These people are just grappling with the big (and sometimes not-so-big) questions which have baffled man ever since Adam asked “So what's the matter with that fruit?”
The issue is, nevertheless, worth addressing. What is God up to when he is the least understandable? Why does He, in his infinite goodness, sometimes do things that seem so, well, bad? Why do the good die young? Why do the nasty people always seem to win while the nice guys finish last? And should our faith in a just, loving God be shaken when we see these seeming contradictions?
Once again, I can't actually answer the questions. I don't know exactly why God sometimes seems to allow His friends to suffer. (As St. Teresa of Avila said to Him, “It's no wonder, then, that you have so few.”) But I'm not arrogant enough to think that there's any reason I should know all of the answers.
The first problem with us humans is that we're not nearly as smart as we think we are. Sure we've figured out gravity and invented computers and traveled to the moon. Eventually we all start to believe that we know all there is to know. We think that, because we can explain the atom, we're somehow capable of speaking the last word on love. Of course we can't, because the last word on love is reserved for the One who is Love itself.
Basically, He's smarter than we are. Immensely smarter. Light years smarter. He sees a far, far bigger picture than we do. We see the here and now. He sees eternity.
Second is the question of perspective. When we complain about so many of these things, what is our perspective? Again, it's the here and now. We're thinking about what seems best for us in this life. Sure, in the narrow confines of the present, it makes more sense for the worthy to win and for the good to live. But this is where an important truth comes into play, a truth which our frail humanity tends to forget. It's important, so listen (or read, as it were) carefully: God doesn't care about our earthly life, except to the extent that it impacts our eternal life.
Yup, that's right. God knows that this life is short. To Him, it's a tiny blink of an eye. During this earthly life, He doesn't care if you win or lose, as far as winning or losing goes. He only cares to the extent that winning or losing may will help you save your soul. If losing does that, He very well may make you lose. It's an act of love. It's probably the same when the good die young. To us, it's tragedy. The deceased, on the other hand, probably aren't complaining what with seeing the Face of God and enjoying the Eternal Banquet and all.
So remember all of this next time you're trying to second-guess God. He's perfect love, perfect justice and perfect mercy. He's also all-knowing. We either believe that or we don't. That's what faith is all about letting God be God. Faith means trusting Him in those times when our tiny little man-brains can't figure out what He's up to.
Next time you have questions like this, don't let them shake your faith. Don't think God can't be God without your approval. Don't think He always has to make sense to us.
And don't come running to me for answers. I'm not God, either.