Tag Archive: Where Is God

2:36 AM

Pain is swallowing my body. Walking 250 steps or more brings extreme tightness in the groins both of both legs and lower calves. To that, former WGN radio host Al Lerner would commically retort, ‘a groin is a terrible thing to pull.’ Spasms crept into my right bicep, forearm, through to my fingers, and radiates significant pain when lifting anything above the shoulder. Through it all, I keep reading previous posts on ‘What’s a good life’ and asking myself, “Am I living it?” That exchange is often followed by remembering something from my past, usually negative, and trying to mentally reconcile that person looking back through the mirror.

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After several weeks of no response, my personal physician responded to my email. After several comments about not noticing my question, she apologized for her tardiness. “Maybe we should try another neurologist,” she wrote. After reading her response, I turned the computer off. There was no counter response. Not that I couldn’t respond. Simply, I am too tired to pursue anything further. 

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A week prior to Christmas I met my counselor. Personally, I believe she thinks I’m nuts.

As you may know, I skipped four of five stages of death. These stages included, denial, anger, bargaining, depression. Maybe I experienced each stage but I experienced them like Tortilla Flat in Arizona, population 6. It’s the sort of town where one presses the accelerator to ensure, that in the unlikely event of mechanical failure, there’s enough speed to coast to the other end.

Thus, her question, “Why haven’t you asked ‘why me?

Having a top secret clearance, I could say, “Classified.” Or better yet, “Because I’m fabulous.” Then again, maybe God didn’t intentionally send me a tumor. “Well, I personally don’t think it (tumor) was intended for me. The package was postmarked, ‘To whom it may concern.’” Truthfully, I have no answer. I just remember that since 2014, my physical symptoms seemed to be accelerating.

On a weird, yet personal note, there were times I reverse-engineered the ‘why-me‘ question.

My first experience with reverse engineering came during a football game where the only player in the history of the NFL died on field. Charles Frederick “Chuck” Hughes. Hughes was sent into the game against the Chicago Bears as an injury replacement. He made one catch for 32 yards and a first down. Three plays later, he was used as a decoy in a play. After the unsuccessful play, he was running towards the huddle with 1:02 left on the clock when he collapsed, grabbing his chest. Hughes was taken away by ambulance and the game continued. At age 11 I questioned God, “Why did I live and he didn’t? What made me so special and not him?”

Even today, as doctors search my colon for another tumor, someone will press me for an ‘why me‘ answer. I don’t have one. Sometimes, I ask the same question. For instance, ESPN college football reporter Ed Aschoff died of pneumonia at 34. My response? ‘Why him, not me?” And then there’s 13-year-old Broadway star Laurel Griggs.’ Ms. Griggs suffered from obstructive lung disease and died after a massive asthma attack. My response? ‘Why her, not me?

Throughout all my questions, God has remained stoically silent. Sometimes, there are weird back and forth that can be both funny and maddening.

“Trust me.”

“What? Seriously?”

“Yes. Trust Me.”

“F*** me.”

“I don’t do that.”

So, yeah, the answer is there, but it’s not quite as detailed as preferred.

As a former rescue man, I know all of us have terrible things happen and it’s just a matter of when such a thing knock’s the door. Otherwise, in spite of all the awful things I’ve done in my life, I’ve been fairly lucky.

I have had many wonderful times in my life. I’ve traveled extensively, scavenged beaches and experienced many wonderful things. “Why me? Not Others?” Don’t know. I am clueless. I have witnessed the deepest levels of human caring. “Why me? And, why can’t others?” Hard to say. As such, each experience humbles me and compels me to become better. I experienced great love and suffered deeply from the loss. “Why did I suffer so greatly?” Who knows. Yet, through it all, God has always … always … always made time for me. And I presume He does the same for you.

Some claim I’m hedging bets, working both sides. True, my walk with God appears perplexing: Grew up Catholic, moved to agnostic, debated atheism, became Buddhist, and Spiritual. I still claim God is an awesome friend, And as my friend, I’m fairly positive He shook His head in disbelief of my misadventures. Yet who among us hasn’t given God the leftovers of both heart and priority? Then at the end of life, look back and regret the many missed opportunities. If you’re such a person, then I’m walking with you.

When my favorite singer, Harry Chapin, died in 1981, his widow reported that Harry’s music supported 17 relatives, 14 associations, seven foundations and 82 charities. Harry wasn’t interested in saving money. He always said, ‘Money is for people,’ so he gave it away‘ (to fight hunger). Even though Chapin questioned God in life, he lived a Christ-like life. My response. ‘Why him, not me?

So, yes. I have regrets. “Why me? But not unlike others.

However . . . In the end, I’m fairly lucky. I have no clue why, but I accept the time remaining. In the end, I just have to trust.

And He whispers, “Yes. Trust Me.”

Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 7.03.23 PMIn the wake of Hurricane Sandy, I assisted several hospitals in restoring their information technology resources.  In the midst of all the mental stress, anguish and pain inflicted, I look at those who passed and ponder the most basic, yet futile, question: “Why?

In October 2012, a New York Times story detailed about 39 people who died in the storm. The following is an excerpt:

  • A Manhattan woman whose only sin appeared to walking her dog and was killed by a falling tree.
  • There was the woman whose iniquity was to take a picture of a downed power line. She did not see the puddle in front of her. Her body remained engulfed in fire for half an hour before rescue workers could salvage what was left.
  • A young Jewish couple killed walking a dog in Brooklyn.
  • Two boys killed when they walked just outside their house to briefly peer at the storm.

In true form, all of us have seen we have seen God’s people serving as God’s hands and feet in the aftermath of many natural disasters. The true image of one’s faith can be seen in all who have selflessly reach out, assisting the poor and downtrodden. All of this may be true, but still I query, “Where was God when Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines?

Hurricane Katrina survivor and retired pastor William Mackintosh stated “God doesn’t send suffering, he allows it and God enters into suffering and shows us how to use it.”  Mackintosh believes suffering and disaster allow believers to learn and practice trust in God, as well as provide a chance for people to be heroic and to help others.  From my perspective, while it may be true that evil (e.g. the death, misery) gives us the opportunity to express kindness, concern and generosity, but could not God think of a less cruel way? Is it fair to inflict suffering just so society has the opportunity to serve?

These are nice thoughts, but personally, it’s bullshit. Ask anyone from the Haiti earthquake, the December 26, 2004 Asian Tsunami, the 2011 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tōhoku or the 2008 earthquake in China’s Sichuan Province about God entering their suffering and seeing if they found a positive way to use it?  Is this what we are to say to the Philippine mother, “God will positively show you how to use the death of your daughter, son and father?

Maybe it’s time to concede to the fact that God is busy. Or as the Philosopher Sam Harris so eloquently quoted after the Tōhoku earthquake, “Either God can do nothing to stop catastrophes like this, or he doesn’t care to, or he doesn’t exist. God is either impotent, evil or imaginary. Take your pick, and choose wisely.”

Why God allows so much suffering is beyond me. Frankly, I don’t really care. I’ve seen too much misery in life, of natural disasters, the inhumanity of mankind and that within myself.  As a Buddhist I do not need evil to be good, to understand what goodness is or to strive to be good. Disasters and God’s strange approach towards His creation can prod me to do good but more often it is the beauty and joy of goodness itself that moves us. It is the Buddha, Christ, God or our faith in humanity and of each other that should inspire us to a higher virtue.

In short, to my friends of faith, if you knew that the above mentioned disasters were going to happen and you had the power to stop it, would you have done so? Undoubtedly most would answer ‘Yes.’ The obvious question that follows from this is, ‘Then why didn’t God?’ How one answers this question will depend on what one’s religion is or whether one has a religion.

As Sam Harris would say, “Take your pick, and choose wisely.”

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