There is a man I’ve read about recently. His name is Joseph and is a single father of two beautiful teenage kids, a boy and a girl. Joseph, whose last name is Hovaugh, and his kids were happy for a long time. But then, Joseph let this wandering, homeless guy named Louis move in with them and Louis was not a good guy. He was arrogant, willful and just plain mean. It wasn’t long before he tried to undermine Joseph, like he was trying to take over the Hovaugh family. He would always push for the opposite of what Joe said and wanted. He lied to the kids, saying that they would be much happier if they listened to him instead of their father. He said that they can stay up all night and eat and drink whatever they wanted. It was like he wanted to start a rebellion against the man who brought him in.
The son refused to listen to Louis and threatened to tell his father, but then Louis beat him. The girl, however, found Louis to be a bit more influential. Soon, Louis had her just completely in his thrall, even convincing her to drink, do drugs and other bad things.
Joe seemed to be ignorant of this situation, but he knew what was going on. His son started asking him how he could let this happen, but Joe just told him that he shouldn’t be angry at being beat up. He also said that they shouldn’t listen to Louis’ lies. But that is all Joe did. He let Louis stay in his home, tempting, hurting and corrupting the children.
One day, after enduring years and years of abuse, the boy wore down and gave in to Louis. Joe got very angry and punished him. But, he did nothing to Louis. He let him remain in his house, but he proclaimed that someday, at a specific point in the future known only to him, he is going to kick Louis out of his house, and if his children haven’t said they are sorry or if they still listen to Louis, then they would be kicked out, too.
This time has not come yet. The kids still suffer as we speak. You, the viewer, may think that Joe is insane, that he should in no way be responsible for taking care of children. Perhaps, he is just as evil as Louis. If there was such a man living next door to you, what would you think? Would you let your children visit the kids next door? Would you contact Child Protective Services? Would you say Joe was unfit to be a parent and take the children out of that situation? Would you do the right thing?
What if I told you that Louis’ last name in this story was Cipher? Would you recognize him as a metaphor for the figure of Lucifer, Satan? What if I told you that Joe Houghva was a metaphor for the God of Christianity and other western faiths. According to these popular beliefs, God lets his adversary harm, tempt and corrupt his children. Not only that, but he punishes his children if they give in and do not hold firm against the constant temptation and abuse. It is said that God has picked a point in the future in which he will battle and win against his enemy, but until then He allows for the corrupting to continue. He will continue to turn a blind eye to what happens to his children. He may reward them if they do persevere, but he will surely punish them if they get weak and don’t apologize for it.
When you place these beliefs at a human level, as I have in this story, it sheds a new light on the structure of the belief in Satan. It makes you wonder if the whole idea of Satan was just humanity’s way of explaining the things that it couldn’t deal with. It could have been the best answer to impossible questions for a specific time and a specific group of people. Sure, there could be a Lucifer that we can blame our shortcomings on, I am not going to deny that. But there could also be invisible flying spaghetti monsters for all we know. My point is that maybe we should all THINK BEFORE WE BELIEVE. Do our beliefs remain logical in practical cases, or must they remain in the sphere of half-formed notions and crude parables?
Speaking of crude parables, let us turn our eye to the Book of Job. At the start of this book, God is admiring his loyal pet, Job, when Satan comes along and says that Job wouldn’t be so loyal if God took away all the good stuff that he had given Job. God takes that bet and proceeds to kill Job’s children and completely destroy his life.
This causes Job to question God as he wonders why all this stuff would happen to him. Job’s friends come by when they hear the news. They start out wanting to comfort him, but when it’s realized that he is too depressed and upset to be comforted, they start giving him lessons in theology. It’s like they know there are only two answers to Job’s suffering; one being that God is an evil being who punishes people on a whim, or two, being Job is secretly evil and deserved of this punishment. Guess which one they pick.
They tell Job that he basically deserves what he got because they refuse to entertain the notion that God did this for nothing (which he did). They can only make sense of Job’s suffering, and that of the world, by blaming Job. Can you imagine your friends coming to you in your time of need and saying you deserved what you got?
After these “friends” leave, God shows up in answer to Job’s demand for satisfaction. Does God show this pious man compassion or give any reason for his suffering? No, God doesn’t admit to his thoughtless bet with Satan and he basically tells Job that he did it because he was all-powerful. He lists all of the cosmic operations he personally manages and talks about chaining Leviathan. He goes on and on about all the things he does and can do. But there is not one speck of concern for his loyal pet who is suffering before him.
Author Harold Kushner wrote in his book, “Why Bad Things Happen to Good People”, that, when God lists all the things he did and continues to do to Job, he was stating that his duties are many and difficult. He says that God was basically saying, “Hey, you think my job is easy, then you try it!” This is wrong, however, for it says in the beginning of the book that God caused this suffering. Job’s suffering, like everyone else’s suffering in the Old Testament and today, is always caused by God. The point of Job seems to be that God is so powerful, he doesn’t need to be fair. He doesn’t need to reward the good and punish the bad.
So, to sum it up, life is suffering and there is no logical answer for this in the Bible. At least, not for me. If you find it there, that is fine, I am not about to take your comfort away from you. Just forget this article ever happened.
To others that need more than what is found in the Bible, I can mere suggest keep on looking because I know the answer is out there for you. I have mine, and boy have I needed it in this life. I will not share it here as I have written long enough for now. I would like to hear of your answers to suffering so feel free to drop by my page here and drop me a line.