How can God allow suffering? (The answer)


Recently I’ve been writing about my newfound passion for empowered prayer, and the  living partnership with the Divine that is available to all.

Unfortunately, for many people there are obstacles to experiencing this. 

In my last message I wrote about some barriers to prayer that a reader sent me.

What I omitted is the greatest, most ubiquitous barrier not only to prayer, but to belief in the very possibility of a loving and powerful deity.

This is, of course, what’s known as “the problem of evil.” 

I was called to account by a poignant email I received from a friend and colleague who shared her personal plight, saying:

 I am in a place of total confusion about God/Goddess/deities in any form.  Do they exist and do they have any real power?….Hard to see how any form of the Divine could allow what is happening on this planet. …

I told her I believe there is a very simple explanation for this that I would address in my next newsletter… and here we are!

So what is this “very simple” explanation, and how dare I assert that I can answer such a painful plea, coming from so many for so long, born of anguish, lostness, and disillusionment, abandonment, outrage, and cynicism? 

The explanation is simple because it is based on clearing up a basic misunderstanding about who we are, who or what the Divine Source is, and what our relationship is supposed to be (in my humble opinion).

Those who ponder the existence of suffering often claim that “either God is loving but not powerful, or powerful but not loving.” 

This complaint can be traced for over 2,000 years and seems to be pretty ingrained in us. But it’s based on what I think is a false – even a naive – assumption.

It’s based on the assumption that if there were a loving and powerful deity, its job would be to take care of all our problems, keep us safe, and allow no harm to befall us. And it would not allow evil to exist.

In other words, it would be a doting parent – of an infant. This implies we should think of ourselves as passive and helpless infants in relation to our Source.

Why do I say this?

Well, isn’t an adult parent (human or animal) supposed to be both loving and powerful in relation to its young? Isn’t a good parent one who takes responsibility, who looks out for its precious ones and tries to see no harm befalls them?  (Think mama bears.)

But for how long is this behavior supposed to go on? How long does it go on for in animal families? (Think birds and nests.)

Protection is needed in infancy, but if it persists for too long we call that “over-protective” parenting, which impairs the child’s development. A child whose parent does everything for it, and tries to keep it safe at every turn, may never grow up, never meet challenges, and not learn to be strong, resilient, and resourceful itself.

An over-protected child will not become an empowered adult.
Where does this desire to be over-protected children (of God) come from?

We have, over millennia, been manipulated into believing we are worthless and powerless and need to be supplicants on our knees. I call this the “measly worm” syndrome.

What if, instead, we are literally offspring of the Divine, made of its being and consciousness? What if we are godlings in the making? 

How would we ever develop our own capacities for love and power if everything were done for us? We would remain in the dormant state of infancy, blissful but atrophied. We would never discover and realize our full potential.

We would never discover – like some Marvel superhero – Who We Really Are.

Here’s the scoop: We live in a free-will paradigm.

We humans have been given the gift of free will and we’re supposed to use it.
We’ve also been given intelligence and creativity and we need to use those too.

There’s one more important thing about a free-will paradigm: it allows evil to exist! 

What if this whole world is an experiment to see what this human, this divine offshoot, can do using its own will, intelligence, and creativity to solve its problems – including the problem of evil?

If so, the parent can’t interfere. It wants us to take the lead. It wants us to grow up.  It wants us to discover our power and potential.

But it also remains ever-present in the background. We have never been alone.
The plan always was for us to be in partnership with the divine realm, not for the divine to do everything for us, and not for us to do everything on our own.

That is the false dichotomy – the assumption that it must be all one way or all the other. There is a third choice!

What hasn’t yet been tried is for this divine human to activate its power, for us to use our free will, intelligence, and creativity as a co-equal partner with our parent.

What we haven’t known is that we have to take the lead and invite our divine partner to dance with us, to solve our problems together.

Our Divine Source is waiting for us to invite it to dance.

There’s a specific way to do this and it’s called Empowered Prayer. Not ordinary prayer, but highly leveraged, skillfully crafted requests to harness the power of our Divine Source in ways that work.

We have to ask and to know how to ask. That’s the secret. It’s understanding what our relationship is meant to be and the powerful role we need to play, as leaders on this free-will planet…not as supplicants on our knees…

…not as babies, but as godlings.

We have to assume our responsibility as maturing divine humans – infants no more. 

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