Why do innocent people suffer: reflection on parenting
People always search for answers in their lifetimes about the meaning of life, suffering and journey. When they have trauma, they seek healing from it and ask why innocent people suffer, while others pose the question differently: why does God allow the innocent to suffer?
The following words will not attempt to comfort the parents who lost their children, or the children who lost their parents who were working in the school. The best anyone can do for them is to pray and try to be there with them in some form, regardless of the distance. They need to know they are not alone. Rather, the following words contain a message to all parents in this world, to all members of the human society.
Why do we get sick? Why do the innocent suffer? Why do five-year-old children suffer? What’s their crime? On the other hand, why do some evil-doers and ignorant people enjoy a seemingly good life in this world? Why do some people get away with crimes? These are good, legitimate questions that are often asked. It is impossible to provide meaningful answers to these questions without touching on the realm of religion and spirituality.
We probably don’t know the real answer as to why innocent people suffer. Yet, there are some meaningful conclusions we can draw about suffering, crime and punishment; especially when one asks why God allows the innocent to suffer.
Four Possible Reasons Why the Innocent Suffer
One of the short answers is that God does not close His “accounting books” in this world. This life is too short for that, and so we don't get to see the entire picture during this lifetime.
The second is that we don’t really know the thesis on which this world is made and how life is composed.
The third is that we don’t really know how or when what we refer to as Sin will reflect back on us and impact our lives.
The fourth is very painful, but we see that the painful responsibility for a sin is borne by innocent people. For Christians, Jesus, who was innocent, took responsibility for people’s wrong-doings. If there was no sin, Jesus would have not been crucified. There was sin and it was borne by an innocent man. Therefore, as Bishop of the Armenian Church Sahak Mashalian says, when innocent people suffer, they take away the sins of this world on their own shoulders, in a manner of speaking. But why? This still does not answer the question, does it?
God wants people’s goodness. He saw all that he had made and it was “good” (Genesis 1:31). However, Divine justice requires some type of compensation, some type of atonement for a committed wrong-doing. God wants the best for His people, but because justice means equality, His justice wants some type of compensation for a committed sin. Prophet Isaiah portrays the global corporate sin in the following manner (Isaiah 59:2, also see Lamentations 3:44). When water evaporates and rises, it becomes a cloud. Can that cloud always stay there? What will happen when the cloud becomes dense? It will rain. On whom will it rain, asked the Bishop Mashalian in his October 29 speech in Armenia’s capital Yerevan. It can rain on everyone, equally. To picture this in a different way; the Lord says that human sins are like a cloud that cover my face from you. But where are the clouds rising from? CERTAINLY NOT FROM THE HEARTS OF THOSE INNOCENT CHILDREN. They rise from your town, city, country, village, the entire world.
These clouds fall on everyone in the form of a tragedy, a curse, a war, an illness, a crime, explained Bishop Mashalian. He said one drop of rain falls on you, another drop falls on another person, and yet another drop falls on an innocent five-year- old child.
Therefore, we all need to understand that sin is not a simple matter. Even if it’s not your sin, it’s not a simple matter. Just like when someone in a community gets a viral infection, it can threaten the entire community. Sin is just like that. It’s a dangerous and complicated matter for everyone. Sin is a very serious matter, but we don’t take it seriously.
What can you do and what you must do
You need to put a protective shield around yourself and your family against the “rain.” Sometimes you are able to protect yourself, other times you are not. Just like when strong winds hit trees, all the branches are affected. When there is poverty in society, the entire human family is affected.
A society based on values
We must start to build a society based on real and lasting values. A society with more sense of responsibility. A society where divorce is not an easy option. A society where children share family dinners with their fathers, mothers and siblings. We must build communities where there are higher values than just working hard and making more money. A society where we love our children and care for their future well-being by teaching them better values.
Parents need to help build a society where iGadgets and video games are not the focus of their children's leisure time and childhood experience. Instead, parents need to help build a society where God, selfless love, family and caring relationships are the top values, rather than a race to accumulate more, bigger, and faster. Mothers and fathers need to reject a culture based on instant gratification and instill a sense of self-worth in their children. At the same time, parents need to speak against the culture of violence and work for peace in their house, neighborhood, community, city, and even in Facebook and Twitter, now more than ever.
As a conclusion, here are some useful references on what the Bible says about parenting:
Parents receive their children from God:
Ge 33:5; 1 Sam 1:27; Ps 127:3
A parents duty to their children include:
- Loving them: Titus 2:4
- Leading them to Christ: Mt 19:13-14
- Training them up for God: Pr 22:6; Eph 6:4
- Instructing them in God’s word: De 4:9; 11:19; Isa 38:19
- Telling them of God’s judgments: Joel 1:3
- Telling them of the works of God: Ex 10:2; Ps 78:4
- Commanding them to obey God: Deut 32:46; 1Ch 28:9
- Blessing them: Gen 48:15; Heb 11:20
- Having compassion towards them: Ps 103:13
- Providing for them: Job 42:15; 2Co 12:14; 1Ti 5:8
- Leading them: 1Ti 3:4,12
- Correcting them: Pr 13:24; 19:18; 23:13; 29:17; Heb 12:7
- Not provoking them: Eph 6:4; Col 3:21
- Praying for their spiritual welfare: Gen 17:18; 1Ch 29:19
- Praying for them when they are tempted: Job 1:5
- Praying for them when they are sick: 2Sa 12:16; Mark 5:23; Joh 4:46,49
- Cause trouble for their children: Ex 20:5; Isa 14:20; Lam 5:7
- Teach their children evil: Jer 9:14; 1Pe 1:18
- Set a bad example to their children: Eze 20:18; Amos 2:4
- Are a blessing to their children:Pr 31:28
- Leave a blessing to their children: Ps 112:2; Pr 11:21; Isa 65:23
This page is updated on March 22, 2013.