Sin and Suffering
Whenever I hear someone suggest that misfortune has afflicted or will afflict someone else, or maybe a nation full of someone elses, because of their sin, I wonder about that conclusion. Any misfortune which anyone experiences in this life will be no different from that previously experienced by many others, including many of the most religiously devout. If sin is behind personal tragedies, what was the Book of Job all about?
The same reasoning applies whenever we ask why bad things happen to good people. Since pain and suffering cannot result from misbehaving, it cannot be avoided by behaving well. If I suffer as a “good” person, I conclude that I experience that pain for exactly the same reason anyone else suffers, regardless of any assessment of their “righteousness”. The exact reason for suffering has always been a matter of speculation. My suspicion is that God uses pain (ours and that of others we observe) to nudge us all along the road to spiritual maturity. If anyone’s uprightness, religious affiliation, and strength of character insulate them from pain, I haven’t seen the evidence. Therefore, I don’t conclude that anyone suffers because God thinks they are bad and maybe deserve a little pain.
If anything, what the observable facts about pain and suffering teach is that life is not a business transaction in which we get rewards and punishments based on how well we uphold our end of a moral contract. Something a lot more subtle is at play, and we need to just recognize as much. The fact that it rains on the just and unjust means that it also hails on both.