God and Suffering – Julie Barthels

Posted: July 18, 2013 in Uncategorized


The headlines seem to scream with tales of tragedy and trauma.  Sometimes it is hard to avoid being sucked into the muck of it all.  As a therapist, I am often challenged by my patients to explain God’s role in the pain and despair of human existence.  They often seek an explanation that has God and suffering tied up in a neat, little theological package.  Words of wisdom elude me.  I can only say that suffering is a part of the human experience and that we cannot get distance from suffering by thinking it away.  We must walk through the grief that comes into our life and not around it.

When my parents died under a Shakespearean turn of events, I felt like my world was falling apart.  But I knew that I had to allow myself to feel the grief, and share it with people who were safe and comforting.  I had to walk through it.  So where does God come in?  No matter what causes suffering in my life, I know that God walks with me if I allow him to.  Sometimes in my desolation, I have pushed God away from me.  I have stomped my feet like a churlish child with God.  But I know in my heart, He is always there; loving me unconditionally.  So you see my view of God is not of a puppeteer who is managing life’s events, but of a companion who is always with me.  This means that when the headlines stir my compassion for those who are suffering, I ask God in prayer to let those people know he is present and that they never walk alone.  This view of God means that I strive to be the person who is safe and comforting when someone is in pain.  I endeavor to be a child of God, but also a face of God for them.

Who in your life needs to feel the love and companionship of God and how can you be the face of God for them?


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