Whenever I come across a very sad story like I did today–about Katherine’s fellow 8-year-old classmate having Leukemia–I always go back to Harold Kushner’s classic “When Bad Things Happen To Good People.”

Now, remind me again, good Rabbi, why does crap befall decent folk?

The compassionate author, who grieved the loss of his son Aaron, uses the Book of Job to present his case on how suffering happens. Most readers of Job want to believe three things: that God is all-powerful, that God is just and fair, and that Job is a good person.

But those things can’t all be true. Not for the book to make sense.

Kushner believes that God neither causes nor prevents tragedies, that He is not able to prevent suffering, and so thus is not all-powerful.

However, God gives us the strength and the perseverance to overcome whatever crap flies our way (those are my words). And that’s really the answer. Because what is is what is. (Sounds like a line from the Dalai Lama)

Kushner explains it better:

“In the final analysis, the question of why bad things happen to good people translates itself into some very different questions, no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, what we intend to do now that it has happened.

“Are you capable of forgiving and accepting in love a world which has disappointed you by not being perfect, a world in which there is so much unfairness and cruelty, disease and crime, earthquake and accident? Can you forgive its imperfections and love it because it is capable of containing great beauty and goodness, and because it is the only world we have?

“And if you can do these things, will you be able to recognize that the ability to forgive and the ability to love are the weapons God has given us to enable us to live fully, bravely, and meaningfully in this less-than-perfect world?”

Listen to Kushner’s reflections on the question, “Can We Forgive God?” by clicking here.

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