War, hunger, diseases, drought, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, accidents, just to mention but a few, have been and are still afflicting humanity. Such human afflictions have occupied and affected humanity and its activities for generations. But where does such evil come from? The endeavour to answer or solve this puzzle has led humanity to discovery and innovation especially in technology in order to adapt and survive in the face of affliction. Today, human life is more enhanced and more dignified due to technological advancement which was born in time of crisis, as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. We have footwear today because someone’s foot somewhere was pierced by a sharp object. Some have found recourse in religion for those who found out that empirical and/or rational explanations were inadequate to address the mystery of human suffering. It is therefore undoubtedly right to assert that such afflictions have shaped human history. It is also important to consider the frame of reference in some cases of human suffering. For instance, for the case of Budalangi floods in Western Kenya, the people at Cherenganyi-source of river Nzoia-consider the rain a blessing for their maize, while the same water is a curse for the people in Budalangi where river Nzoia breaks banks. At the same time it’s an awesome time for fishing. Secondly, a pupil considers caning evil yet for the teacher it is beating the hell out of the pupil to shape her future. Should we consider the rain and the caning evil since it is coupled with human affliction? Two boys find ripe fruits on a mango tree. One hits his fruit with a stone and it drops down thanks to gravity. The other boy climbs but just before reaching his fruit he drops and breaks his arm, thanks to gravity! Is gravity good or evil? To some people, human suffering is their foundation for the refutation of the existence of God. That if there is a powerful, all knowing and loving Deity, why do humans suffer? Why doesn’t he use his omniscience and omnipotence to free humans-whom he loves- from suffering? Is God the cause of evil? Is evil a being? Absolutely not. Evil is a privation, the absence of goodness. God created being, not nonbeing. In fact creating a privation is self-defeating. He is therefore not responsible for evil. In Genesis 1:3 God created light and said it was good; he did not say that darkness was good, because it is a privation. In the same way sickness is a privation of health. Then we call God a healer; how could the limited human mind understand him as a healer is we don’t fall sick for him to heal us. How could we know Christ as a redeemer if we weren’t captives for him to free us? How could we grasp divine providence if we weren’t in need? Since God does not create privations, he only allows it, which then becomes instrumental in knowing him more. In fact when Jesus Christ is asked about the blind man he healed in John 9:1-17; that if the man had been blind since birth, who had sinned between him and his parents; Jesus responds that he had been born that way so that the glory of God may be manifested. Jesus’ response was not anticipated by his audience who expected him to say that the blindness was a punishment for some wrong done. This is not meant to imply negation of the fact that a number of human suffering is as a result of irresponsible human activities. God created us with the free will; that for whatever we do we must be accountable. For instance, whom should we blame for the climatic change when we are well aware that were have such a vehement appetite for forests and that we are generous when it comes to feeding the atmosphere with carbon emissions? And should we keep on lamenting about drought and new lifestyle diseases when we know that we can do something to avert the situation? Should a cancer patient complain as s/he continues to savour sugar and starch food when s/he is aware that cancer cells thrive on sugar and they starve in the absence of sugar? It does not that those who suffer are sinners as some people tend to think. Jesus himself denied this, ‘Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means!…Of those eighteen people who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them-do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!’(Luke 13:1-5). Take every tough situation as a stepping stone to a better goal. Was is not evil for Joseph to be sold to Egypt out of jealousy? But he later becomes the saviour of not only his family but the whole region. If gold that is perishable has to be purified in a furnace, what of the human soul that is imperishable? If death is that evil then how else could we have the hope of going to our heavenly home?
Happy All Souls Day!