How Questioning Unfathomable Suffering Can Help us Cope
He will call Me and I shall answer him; I am with him in distress; I shall rescue him and I shall honor him — Psalms 91:15
Where is G-d? Wherever you let Him in — Menachem Mendel of Kotzk
Holy Temples are destroyed; sacred sanctuaries are shattered; bodies of peace are desecrated, defiled, and dehumanized. There is such darkness in this world, such unbearable pain, such untold suffering.
Where is G-d in all of this? When the darkness enshrouds and the pain trembles, where is the Creator of these temples, these children, these lives?
“Where is G-d when I cry?” Perhaps we can say that G-D IS IN…
Asking where G-d is in times of pain acknowledges the fundamental contradiction between G-d and pain. Pain is darkness and G-d is light. Asking, “Where is G-d when I cry?” is tantamount to asking, “How is it possible for pain to exist in such a Divine world?” The question is the dream and belief in the world’s potential; and the pain is in the realization that the world is not living up to it.
To ask is the ultimate act of faith. To ask is the first step in overcoming the pain, but we all want answers. However, know that G-D IS IN…
There is no answer other than silence. To question the pain is essential. To answer it is impossible. To question the pain is an act of sensitivity. To answer it is an act of callousness. Pain reaches the unfathomable recesses of the soul; answers are mere intellectual exercises.
Sometimes we are silent because we have not found the right words. Other times we are silent because the right words do not exist.
In times of pain, G-d is silent. But G-d is silent not because G-d has nothing to say. G-d is silent because G-d is crying.
And G-d is crying because G-D IS IN…
How is it even possible for a heart to break? How is possible for human dignity to be destroyed? How is it possible for murder, for illness, for suffering to exist in this world? How can the world be so broken?
Every time a heart shatters, a piece of the Universal Heart shatters as well. Every time a mother feels pain for her child, the pain ripples across all the layers of existence. The grief is magnified and it is unbearable.
The pain is unbearable precisely because of the joy that could be in its stead. Death is so acrid precisely because of the vibrancy of the life it tries to replace. Heartbreak is so painful precisely because hearts are meant to be whole. Divisiveness and hate are so sorrowful precisely because G-d is complete.
But, just as a part of G-d is in the heartbreak, so too a part of G-D IS IN…
Our hearts are broken; but our broken hearts inspire us to fix the world. When we see darkness, we demand more light. This part of us, this unbreakable spirit, this perpetual resolve, this eternal flame, is the most Divine part of who we are. This light, this light that illuminates darkness itself, is where G-d can really be found. When we demand joy, and create light, it is in this that G-d is found. ForG-D IS IN…
Pain is not rational. Body and soul are meant to be together as one; the division of body and soul is destruction. Pain is a result of the irrational division of body and soul. It does not have to be this way and when it is, it is a tragedy.
This is why G-d cries. And this is why we cry together with G-d.
Death itself is the greatest sin against G-d; it is the greatest antithesis to G-d. Death is an aberration. Why should a soul ever have to leave a body?
But then we begin to rebuild the bridge between body and soul, between matter and spirit, between heaven and earth. And it is in this bridge that G-d is most present.
The bridge may not be our answer to pain, but it is our unequivocal response. And, unquestionably, G-D IS IN…
There is no answer to the question. But there is a response—a very emphatic response. We respond to pain like never before, we respond with a light force greater than the dark force.
Answers are rationalizations. However, pain touches the very core of who we are, a place much deeper than rationalizations. Reponses too come from the very core.
An answer is philosophical. A response is personal. An answer attempts to cool your hot tears. A response turns your hot tears into hotter fires.
The response ensures that the acute pain does not destroy your life but that your acute life destroys the pain.
Know that G-d is in the response to pain. What is pain? Pain is a nerve telling you that something is terribly wrong. The response is fixing that wrong. And you fix that wrong by ultimately realizing that G-D IS IN…
Pain occurs when matter and spirit are divided. The antidote is to do everything in your power to unite that divide. For every loss of life, nurture new life. For every death, birth new positive actions. For every extinguished wick, help another person to find his or her own inner light.
Yes, G-d is with us in our pain. And the proof is in the action we take to eradicate the pain.
The question, “Where is G-d when I cry?” is the same question as, “Where is G-d?”
The answer is that G-D IS IN…
…EVERYTHING. (ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS LET HIM IN.)
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Amazing. Such a clear and beautiful understanding of how to deal with pain according to our holy tradition. Many blessings for your soothing words and advice
This is really really beautiful.
Thank you for this beautiful message. I have been really upset by the glibness with which some religious people look at evil and suffering and say its G-ds will, that everything that happens is because he wants it to happen. Every suffering is supposed to be planned by Him to teach you something. (What is a torture victim being taught?) I think this drives people away from religion. You expressed this very beautifully and it is comforting! Much more comforting than pat answers. Thank you again.