“If there is a good and loving G-d, then why is there suffering in the world?” Some have used this question as an excuse for their apostasy, but there is no logical connection between believing in G-d’s existence and understanding His actions; those who study harmful bacteria or mosquitoes admit the great genius inherent in how they work, despite the harm they cause.
How many times have you heard the answer: “It’s impossible to know?” This response is not evasive despite what some may think. After all, if the top scientists are still struggling to understand the secrets of the universe, the DNA genome and the human brain, nobody can say he really understands the world we live in.
Man can not even explain himself, the tiny cells in his body or the source of morality and his values. Who am “I”, and what is our soul? What is free will, and how do we know how to differentiate right from wrong? How are we even capable of asking ourselves questions like “Why did G-d create suffering in the world?” And despite this, people ask questions like: “Does G-d want me to suffer? If not, then why is there so much suffering in the world? Maybe G-d created man only to suffer?”
Unfortunately, people who encounter pain and suffering in life, ponder this question at least once. Many people who hear of natural disasters or about a person who was injured in a serious accident, conclude that G-d is not benevolent and loving, but when they themselves are saved from a serious accident or hold a tender baby that was now just born — they feel with all their hearts that there is a loving G-d who loves us, cares for us and has compassion on us and wants our welfare.
So what exactly is going on here? Is G-d good only when He gives good to a person, and has disappeared from the scene when bad happens to a person? The believer feels in his heart that G-d is good, but he doesn’t always manage to explain how he knows this. Even a suffering person ultimately feels that suffering is beyond our comprehension, and there are more good reasons to live than to die.
So, as surprising it may sound, this time we will not try to answer the question “Why is there suffering in the world” and instead, we will try to answer a far more fundamental question: “How do we know that G-d is good?” How can a person who feels that his life is bad, know that G-d really loves him? It is possible that the answer to this question, will also provide an answer to our first question.
In this article, we will address the question of creation itself, of man itself, and from the study of man and his soul we will learn why the Creator is good, and loves a person even if a person is suffering. Think back to these proofs the next time you encounter suffering in life, and you will realize each time again that G-d loves you and cares about you.
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1) The ability to forget: G-d gave man the ability to forget, and enables him to forget the troubles he suffered with the passage of time. Even after the most severe pain imaginable, a person is able to smile and laugh again in life. Over the time, a person can forget his loss when loved ones pass away, and move on. Even Holocaust survivors were able to build a life after the Holocaust, they rebuilt their families, and again experienced moments of joy and satisfaction. If G-d did not want a person's well-being, He would not have given him the gift of forgetfulness.
Imagine a world in which it was impossible to forget: a man who was going through a difficult experience or who lost a loved one, would remember the tragedy even decades later as if it had happened yesterday.
Imagine if time didn’t dull painful memories. In such a world, a man who wasn’t able to forget the troubles and suffering that befell him, would never be able to rebuild his life after a difficult experience or after a loved one died. The disasters etched in his memory would oppress him until the day he died.
The ability to forget proves that our Creator does not want man to be sunk in sorrow. Forgetfulness proves that suffering has an ultimate purpose, but G-d doesn’t wants man to be mired in suffering and misery. G-d decided to ease the suffering of a person by giving him the ability to forget his tribulations and rehabilitate his life after a disaster.
2) The ability to distract oneself. This is a concept which we take for granted — the ability to distract ourselves. Notice how a person who is presently experiencing pain or suffering, can completely forget about it when speaking, reading or working.
Even a person who underwent surgery and suffers from pain can distract himself by talking and involving himself with other matters. Even a person who is suffering and miserable most of the day can suddenly be brought to smile at hearing a joke. When something interesting happens like a phone call or spending time with his family, a person can in a second forget his tough day. He can find himself enjoying these small moments of joy every day.
Think for a minute about a world in which it was possible to forget bad memories over time, but it was impossible to be distracted from them in the present. Of a world where a person suffers from pain, or has a tough day, and there is no way to distract himself from them at the end of the day and relax. A world where he could not enjoy a short conversation or a new subject of study or spending a moment with his family, because the bad feelings that he experienced that day and the pain he felt wouldn’t let him forget his troubles. After all, he had an awful day!
Fortunately, we live in a world where one is able to be distracted from his current miseries. Even if he is lying sick in bed or he went through a tough day, a person can always interest himself in other things to distract him from what he is undergoing, and enable himself to be positive and feel good so he can deal with his life better. The ability to distract oneself from his present situation is another proof that our Creator does not want man to suffer, otherwise a person wouldn’t be able to escape from his reality and feel relief for a moment. The ability to get distracted and suddenly forget all one’s current troubles, is a proof that G-d desires an individual to have it good instead of being miserable.
3) The power of hope:
The feeling of hope should be taken for granted. It's hard to imagine life without it. Thanks to hope, we improve our lives all the time, make plans and desire to live. To give man the ability to hope, anticipate, desire and change, our Creator gave man the ability of imagination. Through this cognitive ability, a person is able to imagine happier situations, and hope for a more comfortable life in the future.
Hope supports and encourages most people in the world to continue and invest effort, and also gives them a reason to live even when they have reached a low point in their lives. In a world without the power of hope, everyone would only live in existential misery and poverty, because they wouldn’t have the motivation to improve their lives and they wouldn’t hope for a better world. Nations wouldn’t try to escape the despotic rule of dictators, and average people would never aspire to become great.
Without hope, people would not be ambitious to succeed in life, and would not strive for material or spiritual achievements. People would not be able to deal with times of distress and pain, because they would always be despondent and unable to change the reality in which they live. Thanks to hope, people made new discoveries in technology, science, and economics, and create an equal and fair government system.
Only because of their ability to hope for a brighter future (and even imagine impossible imaginary successes), most people are able to achieve a comfortable life. Because of hope, hungry and poor people are able to continue to survive, and even to smile and enjoy other things in life. Hope proves that our Creator does not just want to ease man’s suffering in this world, but wants him to find a cure for his suffering and a better life. The ability to hope shows that suffering has a supreme purpose, and that G-d does not want man to suffer and live in misery.
4) The ability to get used to a situation:
A strange fact that is very difficult to explain is how a person can get used to any situation, even the most difficult and worst imaginable ones. How do amputees, the blind, sick people or Holocaust survivors manage to build a new life after their lives were utterly destroyed?
It is an incredible power which our Creator has implanted in human nature. It is an irrational power, and even impossible … and yet reality shows that it is true: a sick person can get used to his disease, a poor man can get used to his state of poverty, and an old man can get used to the infirmities of old age.
The wonder is that the ability to get used to a situation exists not only in people who were born a certain way and who never knew a different existence (such as those who were born poor or blind from birth), but also in people who have lost what they had: a rich man who becomes poor, a child who became an orphan, and a healthy person who became an amputee or blind. They will be able over the years to get used to their difficult situation, and even be able to smile and be happy from the many other pleasures that remain to them in life.
We can state in confidence that only due to the power to get used to a situation, disabled people and amputees are able to rebuild their lives again, be happy and enjoy themselves, and even display love of life despite their difficulties and severe disabilities.
Only because of the ability to get used to a situation, is a person capable of dealing with difficulties that never go away, return to functioning and enjoy the other things that life has to offer. If our Creator did not have mankind’s best interests at heart, G-d would not give a person this unfathomable ability to get used to immutable situations and then a person would live his life in constant sorrow and grief for what he has lost. He would not be able to rebuild his life after falling on difficult times.
We are so used to our current lives, that it is difficult to even imagine a reality without the ability to get used to things! Without this ability, a person would spent his life mourning for everything he has lost, and would feel grief every second for the situation he finds himself in. The ability to get used to a situation is another proof that our Creator does not want a person to suffer his entire life, and it also shows that there is a supreme purpose to suffering.
G-d therefore provided a palliative to the tribulation by enabling a person to get used to restrictive conditions, hard labor, poverty or disability, and in this way to be happy with what he still has. Only due to this fact, are all the poor and handicapped able to carry on with their lives, raise families, and find happiness and pleasure despite their difficulties.
5) The ability to dream and imagine:
Did you notice the fact that a person suffers from nightmares particularly during a time of stress or distress? He usually dreams about the things he's afraid of more than all else. It is no coincidence. It turns out that dreams are a kind of psychological therapy, in which a person not only escapes from reality, but faces his greatest fears and learns to deal with them.
When a person experiences a horrific dream, he is able to cope better with real difficulties in his life because it is as if he had prior experience. We dream every night and not just in times of stress or distress. Dreams help us escape from daily reality, to feel free and live a different, good or interesting life. They allow us to learn about the feelings that we are internalizing in our unconscious.
The ability to dream is a tremendous force, without which we would not be able to function every day anew, because logically, we would get bored and give up everything we do at school or work. There is no time-out better than a good sleep with dreams that create a sense of passing time, and escape from a harsh reality or routine.
The ability to sleep and dream allows a person to deal with trouble and suffering in life, to take a a sigh of relief at the end of the day, and take time out from the daily effort and harsh reality. Even a sick or poor person, and even a person who is suffering and in pain throughout the day — is capable of sleeping at the end of the day and escaping from his reality.
You could even say that sleep at the end of the day, wherein we escape from all the things that bother us, is the equivalent of psychological therapy, or to a vacation where we can escape from all the things that bother us. Notice the interesting fact that after sleeping, all our afflictions seem less oppressive. Sleep helps release a person from a bad mood, anger or pain, because dreams create a sense of passing time and a time-out from life.
Even when the person does not remember his dreams in the morning, he feels that time had passed, and he looks at the previous day with a more objective perspective. Thanks to his dreams, a person can forget his suffering and be elsewhere, and then get up more relaxed.
Dreams do quickly what time does slowly — they help a person forget his troubles and turn a new leaf after his ordeal. Without sleep, life would be a long chain of events, and for many people, life would be ongoing suffering without beginning or end. Only because of sleep and dreams can a man leap over a period, feel that time passed and with it, the tribulations of yesterday.
If G-d does not want the best for the person, He would not have given him the ability to dream. In such a reality, we would still have to let our body rest from time to time as do fish, but we would not be able to sleep soundly and have dreams. People would then always feel tormented, because they wouldn’t be able to escape from reality, and wouldn’t feel the passage of time. We would be bored and tired of all work we do, and no one would be able to relax and forget their troubles for even an hour.
Fortunately, our Creator gave us a remedy to our tribulations, and allows a timeout from life for every person every day — deep sleep and imaginary dreams that lighten our suffering and routine, and allow us to get up tranquil and relaxed, as if we took a vacation every night. Our Creator has shown us once again that He wants the individual’s best interests, and that our suffering has a purpose in creation.
6) The power of a marriage:
Our Creator gave Adam a wife: besides the physical pleasure that our Creator gave man and woman in the marital relationship, He gave them the ability to also connect at the level of the soul, as the Torah says (Genesis1:24): “A man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
Not for nothing do they say that love is blind. When a man and a woman find a true soul connection, they view it as the pinnacle of happiness and perfection in life. The rabbis taught that a man without a wife has no joy and is not yet called a “man” because he is not complete without a wife.
Our Creator created human beings with a special nature so they would live in pairs and establish families together, and people would not live alone. Most animals live or wander alone, or live most of their lives in groups. Even those animals that have mates do not connect at a soul level. A man clings to his wife, and the woman clings to her husband, and they become a single entity that lives and works together, a unique unit called a family.
G-d created humans with a drive to establish marital and family ties to benefit them, so they won’t live alone. It is for this reason that every man feels sublime elation and joy when he finds the woman intended for him, and likewise the woman.
The Bible tells us (Genesis, Chapter 2) that at first the Creator created the first person alone so he would understand how much he needed a woman to be successful and achieve a close connection and joy. If we look at the physical side of a man and a woman, all their organs are complementary, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Our Creator created the woman with a mind and understanding different from that of a man, to the point that people often classify them as the “male species” or the “female species.”
All their qualities are suited to each other like a hand to a glove: a man by his nature is rational and firm in his opinions, while a woman by nature is sensitive and gentle. The male brain is adapted to extensive and prolonged efforts, while a woman is built to handle a series of repetitive actions and switching easily from one task to another. A woman completes a man through her female intuition (“exceptional understanding” in the Sages’ terminology) and her ability to influence the emotional part which he is mostly missing, while a man completes a woman by providing social order and common logic.
Of course, both men and women have cognitive and emotional capabilities, but each one of them received several features in stronger measure than the other has, for the purpose of completing each other.
One can not help but admire the immense wisdom in how the woman’s body and soul were formed, and it is not for no reason that the Torah informs us that she was a divine gift given to Man.
The marital relationship is not just the ability to connect physically with each other, but the ability to connect spiritually and mentally, so that a man and woman can complete each other, can love each other and want to live together forever. Many describe the love between man and woman as the strongest love that exists, and as the best gift they ever encountered in their lives. You can not count all the songs of love and sacrifice written about the relationship between a man and a woman.
We must remember that the Creator of human nature created this amazing experience of love and granted us this emotional and physical relationship. G-d gave man the greatest gift that there is, a woman and the power to love her. The marital relationship has conferred tremendous benefits on a man and a woman, and they prove to us once again G-d's great love for human beings.
7) The ability to love:
The ability to love, and the ability to be loved, is the most wonderful thing in the world, and the greatest compensation for all the difficulties that we personally experience in our lives. I am not referring to a specific love but the ability to love: parents’ love for their children, a child’s love for his parents, a man's love for his wife, love between close friends, love for one’s teachers and educators, love of the creation and creatures.
We all know that the greatest pleasure in life is the power of love that G-d has given us, without which life is dreary, but with it life is full of beauty and hope. Because of love, a man seeks his other half, starts a family and takes care of his children. Because of love, a mother is close to her children and wants their success. Love for another is such a powerful drive that people will even sacrifice their lives for it. Parents do not envy the success of their children, even when their children do better than them and demonstrate unusual talent due to the power of love.
And above all these, only through the tremendous power of love can man love his Creator with all his heart and soul, in spite of all his ordeals and suffering, and even give up his life as a martyr.
The ability to love is the most powerful emotion in creation, and the best thing that exists in our world. G-d actually gave man the greatest and most precious gift of all, the greatest gift you can give, the ability to love and be loved. This is an ultimate proof that G-d desires the best interests of man and loves him. If G-d wanted a person to suffer, love would not exist in the world.
8) The ability to feel compassion:
Our Creator gave man a unique ability, the ability to feel compassion for another and to empathize with the suffering of others. A person by nature is able to identify and feel the suffering of others. A person is able to feel sad and even cry over the sorrow of strangers, and helping them out of compassion. Man by nature feels compassion for children, for the disabled and handicapped, for the bereaved, and is even able to empathize with the suffering of animals.
Our Creator gave mankind a very special power which drives a person to treat kindly those in need, and help the sick, orphans, widows and the poor. Without the ability to feel compassion, people would not feel the suffering of others, and they would all the more ignore the suffering of strangers. Our Creator gave man this amazing power so he would be able to feel the suffering of others, and be concerned for them.
This example shows how G-d takes care of a person through the sensation of compassion which He implanted in other human hearts. If G-d didn’t care about people, He would not have planted compassion in their hearts, and suffering individuals would not have received any help and concern from anyone. Without mercy, it is a cold and selfish world like the world of sharks or lions.
Because G-d gave compassion in a man’s heart, a person learns that G-d feels compassion for him and worries about him, makes sure that people help each other, engage in charity and kindness all over the world, and do not turn a blind eye to the plight of other people in the world. It demonstrates that G-d doesn’t seek the suffering of man, but his benefit.
Compassion is not natural, and its existence therefore proves that our Creator is merciful. We learn from this that suffering has a purpose, since our Creator makes sure to temper the suffering in the world with the quality of compassion.
9) A thousand wonderful gifts:
Our Creator gave man senses, features and capabilities that allow him to enjoy the world more than any other creature. This title includes a long list of pleasures, both physical and spiritual, which are impossible to count. G-d gave man the ability to benefit from nature, marriage, family life, the young children born to him, from learning, and from everything that he has in life. Man is capable of imagination, speech, thought, creativity, morality, art and even a sense of humor.
It is a fact that the Creator created a wondrous world, and He gave man a wonderful body, through which a person can attain much enjoyment in his life. The ability to enjoy beauty, the world, one’s family, and anything you have achieved in life, amounts to one thousand proofs that G-d desires that men have a good life.
Have you ever thought how many movements and muscles a human must use to talk, to pronounce words, to express himself through language? Most animals are dumb and do not have the ability to speak even if they were able to do so. Look at the human face and you will find that it has more thinner muscles than any animal, which enables him to express his most subtle feelings and emotions.
We were given a great body which is the masterpiece of creation from our Creator, which can be termed “the incredible machine”. We have wonderful senses and an amazing brain: we can see in color and three-dimensional vision, have stereo hearing, have a sense of taste, smell, and touch, hands composed of precisely-shaped fingers and even eyebrows that prevent sweat from entering your eyes. We are aesthetic and symmetrical creatures, and even how a beard and hair grow indicate supreme wisdom.
We are so used to our senses that we forget to be amazed by them. We can not for a moment imagine life without sight or hearing, and despite that, we do not think about these wonderful gifts every day. Man was given the ability to see, and enjoy a broad view of the world around him, with a sense of depth and color that most animals don’t have.
A person is capable of enjoying the sights and colors, stunning views and even looking at a green leaf; G-d gave man the ability to smell and taste, through which a person can enjoy countless delicacies, fragrances, and foods; G-d gave man the ability to hold, feel, touch, sit and go, so a person can easily move around the world and feel everything around him. Touching and feeling also facilitates marital relationships.
Our Creator has given men and women the marital relationship that unites them, the ability to enjoy this union and have children.
Our Creator gave man a wonderful and unparalleled sophisticated body, and there is no tool more suitable than it to express our feelings and thoughts. We received the ability to speak and our face is able to express a thousand feelings and emotions more than any other animal in nature. All these facts prove that the Creator wanted to do good to Mankind, and does not desire to torment a person. It is only because a person is given to his habits, that he is not astounded every day anew for all the wonderful gifts that he has.
If the Creator wanted man to be miserable and suffer during his life, He would not give him the ability to enjoy so many features and capabilities. We received an amazing body and spiritual powers that no other creature in nature has. Most importantly, we have the ability to enjoy and marvel at all that we have, and this is the proof that the Creator does not enjoy the suffering of man but seeks his welfare and success. The Creator wants man to be happy and enjoy the world, while suffering has an inevitable goal which remains to be understood.
10) Our Creator gave mankind the Torah and meaning of life, and did not abandon them.
Our Creator gave mankind the Torah and meaning of life, and did not abandon them.
Our Creator created man with a special desire for religious meaning in life. This is the way that our Creator gave man the ability to recognize Him, to get the “manufacturer's instructions” (the Bible), to know that he has a soul and there is life after death, and finally to understand the meaning of suffering and the purpose of life. When he knows what is the purpose of his existence, when he knows that this is a world of trial and the true life comes after death, all these help a person overcome his pain and suffering.
All people understand these things, including gentiles, because the Creator implanted these realizations in the human soul. Because they are part and parcel of human consciousness, that is why they are at the essence and major beliefs of every religion. The ability to achieve meaning in life, to know that the Torah is true and is the purpose of creation, is itself proof that the Creator wants to do good to man, and He created him for a special purpose. From this, we realize that suffering is only one of the means of creation, but not its purpose, and G-d does not want man's suffering, but his best interests and his ultimate success.
*) The following proof is not included in the list, and only one who tried to get close to G-d by his own efforts can recognize personally His love: man received the most amazing gift in the whole of creation, and no physical or living thing can compare to it. It is something that no animal has: a divine soul.
Everyone knows that man is the only one who received insight, the power of speech and free will, but the soul has much more than that … a person can control his personal situation in the world and decide on his own fate and the path that his life will take, can choose between good and evil, either recognize his Maker or deny Him, and only he can pray and ask for help and guidance from G-d and see it happen in his life!
Our sages have taught us that a person’s human soul is divine and eternal. Man has the distinction of being the most unique creation in the world. He is the only one who received a Divine soul which gives him the ability to reach a higher level than an angel, to bring the world to its rectification and its complete redemption, and at death to return to the eternal Creator who created him.
This undoubtedly proves that G-d loves humans likes sons, because of the divine connection that He created in our souls, and the privilege given to us to know our Creator and communicate with Him.
Try yourself and you will realize this love: Find yourself a quiet corner and talk to G-d in your own words, candidly but respectfully. Speak to Him about your dilemmas and difficulties, and you will find to your surprise how G-d reveals Himself to you in your private life, gives unexpected help, advice that comes suddenly out of nowhere, new doors that open up, and at the right moment and time (this advice applies to all ages, both men and women).
Know the power of your prayer, the power of the soul that you received, study the Torah and discover your connection to the Creator of the world. Then you will know that G-d really loves you like a son.
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As it is easy to see, G-d created the world naturally good, together with trials and difficulties which we have to deal with until we die. G-d created many remedies to relieve human suffering in This World, to deal with our suffering and to overcome it. Our Creator is a doctor and therapist, and He created man with natural proclivities that will help him cope with his difficulties and troubles, and to love life despite his suffering.
An objective investigation of the creation reveals that our Creator’s Will is to benefit a person, and therefore the existence of suffering serves a purpose and its own particular reason. The capabilities that G-d gave man prove more than a thousand witnesses that G-d wants an individual to have a good life and not a miserable one; capabilities such as love, compassion and meaning show that there is a special purpose to man's existence — and consequently we learn that there is an explanation and purpose behind the existence of suffering — even if it is hidden from us in This World.