Our senses tell us so much about our God. We gaze at a sunset; we contemplate a beautiful face or the breath-taking immensity of the ocean. What Generosity gave men the gift of sight? How good God must be to entrust to us this power, along with all of His creation upon which to exercise it. We hear the soft cooing of an infant, or a symphonic masterpiece; we feel the warmth of the sun upon our face, or the embrace of one we love; we enjoy the delicious variety of exquisite tastes in this world — wine, coffee, or fine chocolate; we smell the aroma of a field of flowers, or a home-cooked meal after a day of hard work. How good our God is! These are beautiful gifts, and all of these things we experience with our senses are crying out to us, begging us to turn to the God Who is their Source and Creator. He is so good.
And yet…that’s not the whole story, is it? If we tried to just leave it at that, we would be distorting reality. We would be ignoring the other half of the picture — or maybe it would be more true to say we would be ignoring the other ninety-five percent of the picture. Why? Well, because these aren’t the only experiences we have with our senses. There are many other things we must endure with them each day. For example, when we have to stand by and watch a family member suffer — and we’re unable to do anything about it — what does this tell us about our God? Or when we are confronted with the smell of onsetting death by the sickbed of our friend, or taste the bitterness of tears of loneliness…what do these things tell us about the generosity of our God? I thought He was supposed to be good? Does He even care? Or when we feel deep within us a heart-rending betrayal from somebody we thought we could trust, or when a child’s heart sinks as he listens to the sound of parents screaming and yelling at one other — doesn’t God know about these things? Has His generosity been so easily exhausted, that He finds Himself at the end of His rope, unable to tolerate any more? Is this why we so often find ourselves having to listen to that sound of silence — that awful silence when we pray and pray and pray, and God just doesn’t seem to hear? If these things also speak to us about our God, then it seems they give a completely different message about His goodness and love.
This is a serious objection, one commonly asked by men when they suffer. It is not to be treated lightly.
But the answer brings both inspiration and peace. The answer, in short, is the following: God allows suffering because of how greatly He treasures our love. All these experiences of suffering and evil in the world…they tell us that love is precious. God wanted us to love Him freely. He is not like the human father who forces his young children to rush to meet and embrace him at the door when he arrives home from work each evening. A truly loving father would never be content with such a show of affection. It would be forced, and thus fake. No, love must be free. What sort of person would enter into marriage with another if they knew that this other was absolutely opposed to the marriage in every fiber of their being, and was only consenting to it because of pressure from parents and friends? Only a madman would consider such a thing. If it isn’t a gift freely made of oneself to the beloved, then it isn’t love, and we should call it something else.
So, God made men free. He gave them the power to love Him, the power to freely acknowledge His goodness and to love Him for it. However, with that freedom also comes something terrible: the possibility of rejection. When we love another, we necessarily give them the power to destroy us, but trust them not to. Unfortunately, men deny God and His goodness; they reject their duty to love Him, and in so doing they "destroy" Him. We call this sin, and it is sin that brought suffering and evil into the world. But God knew this would happen. He knew men would betray their Creator and use their freedom against Him…and yet He still gave them all these gifts, knowing they would fall, knowing they would bring disorder and chaos upon the wonderful creation of His hand. God allowed it, because these things are the price of love. He clearly sees this, and we must ask Him for this same understanding. We must ask Him to share with us a little piece of this vision of reality. Only then, in the midst of the daily crosses and trials of this world, will we realize that these evils and sufferings do not outweigh the beauty of a single act of pure, free, and sincere love. Love is precious, love is beautiful. It's why we live. It is for making this gift of ourself to another, but especially to Him, that He brought us into this world. So take heart, and be of good cheer. This love — this simple and free, child-like gift of ourself to our Father, especially in reparation for all of those who abuse this love — is all that He is asking of us at each moment of our lives.