Suffering in the World: Who's Responsible, God or Humanity?
The undeniable reality of suffering in the world often leaves humanity perplexed about its source. The struggle to make sense of pain usually leaves people wondering what they have done to merit the agony of suffering. It is hence not bizarre to hear a person in suffering ask, "What wrong have I done to be suffering this much?" "Why is God punishing me?"
It is not uncommon to hear some people like Edward Schillebeecks exempt God from any responsibility in the suffering of humanity. Shillebbeeckx unequivocally suggests that God is not responsible for the suffering of humanity just as he wasn't responsible for the suffering of his Son more than two thousand years ago. In his words, "[N]o one should ascribe to God what has, in fact, been done to Jesus by the history of human injustice." But how can a tragic event like the death of the Son of God and, by extension, suffering in the world be laid solely on the shoulders of humanity? Doesn't putting the responsibility of pain and suffering in the world on humanity rob God of his all-powerful nature?
To avoid this quandary vis-à-vis the nature of God, classical theologians like St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas proposed the principle of the two evils, that is, evil-suffered and evil-done. They also maintained that while God may not be responsible for pain and suffering in the world, he certainly does permit or allow it for a greater good.
If God only permits or allows suffering, what do we make of Marthe Robin's experience that suggests that the Risen Lord, God the Son, appeared to her, asking her, "Do you want to be like me?" And upon the question made her live the suffering and pain and carry the wounds of the Crucified Lord. According to her, she was "the little victim of the Lord."