I think humanity has been asking this question since the dawn of time. It is a bit more personal at this moment, though. We are not reading about a plague from the Old Testament or the Dark Ages. The media is giving us statistics of widespread illness and death to compare to our current COVID-19 crisis, presumably to encourage us. They do not. I live in the Seattle area, and these numbers now have faces. We are talking about my neighborhood. It just got personal.
In our day, I think it is easy to believe we have evolved and that our intellectual advances should make us immune to this type of devastation, yet they have not. Nor have they made us immune to panic, fear, and depression. In times of difficulty, whatever is in us gets pressed, and under extreme pressure, we see changes in behavior.
If we are typically generous, we are checking in on our neighbors. If we are primarily selfish, we are on a circuit to buy more than we need from stores and leaving the shelves empty. If we have narcissistic tendencies, then we may not give others much thought at all, which includes a willingness to ignore social distancing with a flippant attitude. If we are angry, social media is now our playground. Pushing people’s buttons and engaging hostility is just too hard to resist. If we are honest, truly honest, we can admit we each possess all these traits to some degree. If we are in a negative mindset, we will find more of it. If we are in a positive mindset, we see positivity all around us.
The stories of old, and even the current flu deaths, do not encourage me. They are merely abstract numbers, and what is happening today has a real face. These are human beings that I have likely passed in my travels at some point. They are someone’s loved ones.
“Why does God allow this to happen?” I asked this question for decades, and I didn’t do it quietly. In a time of extreme pain amidst a devastating circumstance of some kind, I was mostly shouting it. I don’t ask anymore. To believe I can know and understand what God is thinking and doing suggests that I am on His intellectual level when I can barely balance my checkbook.
My sponsor in A.A. often reminded me that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. She taught me to accept life on life’s terms. She suggested that I allow a few minutes to feel sorry for myself to honor those feelings and allow them an outlet, but to do it in a safe place. It was not a good idea to share unprocessed emotions with an unsafe person. This is my suggestion for you as well.
While I had done much work in the area of asking why God would allow so much pain in the world, I finally put it to rest with a Tony Robbins podcast. A conference participant expressed rage at her parents for the abuse in her childhood. She was adamant that was the reason she would never be successful. Tony asked her to tell him about who she was and what things she did in her life. He asked about her skills, natural abilities, personality traits, and strengths. When she finished, Tony explained to her if her parents were to blame for holding her back in life, she would also need to give them credit for all her positive traits as well. They would need to be recognized for their positive contributions. I sat back in my chair and slowly exhaled. Oh, boy, I had some things I’d better start thanking God for.
I don’t need to know why things happen anymore, and many times I am better off not knowing.
I am praying for our country and our president. I prayed for the last one too. We are all in this together. Peace be with you. Be kind to your neighbors. Share if you can and consider having a chat with God. I’m sure He would love to hear from you.