We spend a lot of time at seminary talking about something called theodicy. Theodicy means "the justice of God," and it basically asks the question: "If God is all-good and all-powerful than why does bad stuff happen to good people?"
I will be honest with you and admit that I'm not sure there's much of a good answer to this, other than messing with the idea of what exactly we mean by the phrase "God is all powerful." Which I could do here, at length. But I'm not going to. Because right now, at the end of my semester, with a lot of the people that I'm in close relationship with going through some tough times, and with the 24-hour news cycle throwing its (why is it so)usual storm of pain and suffering at us, I'm not sure that trying to answer the question of theodicy is the most helpful thing.
There is a book of mystical poetry that one of the brilliant students that I worked with at American University gave me. She marked a bunch of pages in it. One of the pages she marked was a poem by Catherine of Siena, a 14th century saint. Here is what St. Catherine wrote:
"A thorn has entered your foot. That is why you
weep at times at
There are some in this world
who can pull it
The skill that takes they have
There is a time for debate. A time for trying to figure out ,"why." A time for analysis.
But there is a time, I think, when what we need to do is sit with each other and help knead thorns out of each others feet. Sit with those "some in this world" and help hold each others' hurt.
Maybe it's the end of the semester. Maybe it's all the trauma that has been flooding our national--and international--conscious lately. But that's where I feel pulled right now.