Who Sinned? (Suffering Pt. 2)
There was a belief established in the Old Testament for the Jewish people, but the idea is basically universal.
The idea in Hinduism it is known as Karma. Someone does something bad for gain, therefore something bad must happen to them. If you carry negative energy you will incur negative effects. Other Asian deviations are Ying and Yang, the idea of divine or natural balance.
In the Old Testament it is the idea that if someone sins they will be punished to the third or fourth generation. In other places it is one community being punished because of one person’s sin. This comes up in several places. When Job is experiencing his trials his friends ask, “What have you done?” Job says he didn’t do anything and they don’t believe him, “You must have done something or this wouldn’t be happening.” His wife recognizes this also thinking that a great sin must be repaid with a great punishment so she says, “Curse God so that he will just kill you.”
This is well established when Jesus comes along and he is hanging out with a blind guy and people ask him, “Who sinned here? Him or his parents?” Jesus says, “No one. He is like this to show God’s glory.”
Is this the place of suffering? Just to show what God can do? Or was this just the case for this guy?
I think of the stories of children when I think about suffering. I remember the story of Elliot whose life was really a blessing and taught his parents and the people around him so much about God and whose life, though short was something of a faith building experience.
But I also think of a baby named Hannah that one of my professors told me about. He ended up on a plane next to baby Hannah and her mother. He was talking to her mother making casual conversation. He told her that he was a teacher at a Christian school. She told him that she was getting into Buddhism.
While they were talking the baby made a funny face, started drooling a bit and went rigid. The woman explained that Hannah had a degenerative brain defect that was causing her seizures and that within a few months Hannah would be in a hospital on life support and eventually would die.
The mother said she had gotten into Buddhism because of the escape from reality that it offered. My professor asked her what Buddha would have her do about her baby’s situation. “Divorce yourself, put it aside, cast it our of your mind, realize this is only temporal and not important.” He asked her if that was helping, but she shook her head and said no.
Later, he told her that he didn’t know why Hannah was suffering, why she was dying or why their family was being put through this, but that Jesus too was very sad and weeping over the suffering of her child.
We don’t know the mother, we don’t know if this child was a blessing or not. It seems that she was already trying to put the child out of her mind when she was sick, that it had already led to some poor faith decisions. Was this a blessing? Was God glorified?