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How Can I Explain to Others Why God Allows Suffering?


It’s hard enough to understand suffering as a faithful Catholic, but how does one explain the coexistence of faith and suffering to a nonbeliever? A listener calls in to the Busted Halo Show to ask how she can explain God’s goodness to her atheist husband, who is suffering from debilitating physical challenges and chronic pain. “How could I believe in a God who could let this stuff continue to happen?” she asks. “How can I talk to him about God in the midst of his suffering?”

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Philosophers and theologians have pondered the theme of suffering for centuries, and there are no easy answers. However, Father Dave offers a few suggestions. First and foremost, he tells the listener, “The way in which you continue to live your faith and … the way in which you continue to love and serve him in his hours of pain is a much greater witness” than any convincing words or arguments. Often, actions speak louder than words.

Secondly, we must all understand that God’s purpose isn’t to “wave a magic wand” and take away all suffering, but rather to be there for us in the good times and the bad times. Jesus never said that bad things wouldn’t happen, rather he encouraged us to take up our crosses in order to follow him. Even his own disciples questioned why God allowed bad things to happen in the Gospel story about the fishing boat caught in the midst of a violent storm. The disciples cried out to Jesus and asked why he did not intervene. Father Dave says, “Faith does not mean that there will not be storms … Faith means that I believe in a God that is with me always.” (Original Air: 5-23-19)

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