Life in the world is very difficult. No matter if you are rich or poor, life is filled with every sort of pain and suffering. With so much violence, sickness and death in the world, it is no wonder that for ages, people have asked, “Why does God allow suffering?”
Even with all these problems in the world, the Third Messenger of the Manichaean Faith has said there is hope. “The Light of the Father shines even in the darkest of nights so that all those seeking Him in honesty may find Him.”1
Manichaeans believe that human suffering, pain and ailments are attributed to the evil one, and not to God. Manichaeans also believe that God is all-powerful, but at the same time, they believe He is outside time and space. When Manichaeans say that God is outside time and space, this means that God is not associated with the physical world in any way, with the exception of sending His various Messengers to give guidance, teaching and comfort for a better future.
“Humanity is always tested with physical, emotional and mental adversity. It is part of the human drama and the process of spiritual development.”1
Manichaeans also believe that there is obviously disease before there can be healing. There is pain before there is comfort. Humans experience pain and suffering on a daily basis. For some this pain is due to physical ailments and diseases, and for others, it is mental anguish, depression and other related forms of suffering.
It could be said that there are certain people in the world that actually deserve certain levels of suffering. For example, there are criminals that have caused a great deal of suffering for others, whether they have tortured their fellow human beings, murdered them, or subjected them to loss of loved ones, property and so on. Would it not be reasonable to think that such criminals should undergo some form of punishment for their actions?
Human beings sin against God every day. People might think they are “good” based on their own concept of what “good” is. Some, in their pride, might even think of themselves as being “perfect.” But is anyone really perfect? Is anyone really “good”? If a man is good or perfect, why has he not assisted others in becoming perfect as well? As long as humans exist in the physical shell, they will continue to sin against God and thus they will suffer the consequences of their actions.
Most people who ask the question “Why does God allow tragedies and so much suffering in the world” are really asking due to their own experience in suffering, whether this is due to physical pain or mental anguish. On the other hand, there are few people who ask this or similar questions out of intellectual curiosity.
Human beings live in a world filled with sin, guilt and all types of actions that are against God. Much of the suffering is a consequence, as mentioned above, of the sins committed by humans. Then they blame such suffering on God. This is a natural human reaction, at least for those who have some form of belief in a Higher Being. No one wants to blame themselves, so they feel they have to blame someone.
God did not create pain and suffering. He did not place souls on the earth to experience the evil actions of others. Humans have a choice to make – whether to rise above the suffering by gaining proper knowledge about God and the future, and along with developing strong faith that God’s promises of a better future is the hope of the soul.
Mar Mani once said2, “True hope for humanity in this age is found in the Divine Light. It is a light that is so bright, that the darkness can never over power it.”
Additionally, the Third Messenger said, “While the forces of darkness moulded the body in which your soul inhabits, it was by the grace of the Father of Lights that you are able to speak and move about.”1
God has made a way out for humans to escape all this suffering. He has sent His Messengers throughout the centuries – throughout the entire existence of humanity. According to the Manichaean belief system, God helped the first humans when they were suffering in pain on the worst level – when they were unable to walk, see, hear or even expel their bowels. He created limbs, eyes, ears and orifices to alleviate their pain and gave them knowledge as to how they can make choices on their own. Through His great power He created all the beautiful things you see around you. The world would be a very bleak and seemingly uninhabitable place if there was nothing beautiful to see with one’s eyes. In the physical world, you would starve to death in great pain if you had no hands, feet or mouth to gather and consume food. God provided all these blessings for the benefit and comfort of humankind.
God’s love is what sustains believing humanity in the earth. Humans have choices to make. They can either continue to permit themselves to get mired down in their suffering, letting it get the best of them, or they can rise above it by developing hope and faith to help alleviate suffering not only for themselves but for others, or they can let all the pains and the ills of the world get the best of them, immaturely blaming God for causing such things in their lives.
It all boils down to choices and recognising that God has made a way out. It is not a matter of questioning whether or not God can take it away instantly or asking why He has not done so already. As long as a soul inhabits a physical shell, there is going to be some level of suffering. Sometimes you might think that your suffering is the greatest anyone has ever experienced, but when you remember that there are children in some countries who are being persecuted, with their eyes being gouged out by terrorists and other very evil persons, all of a sudden your own pain seems so much less than you previously thought.
The evils in the world are certainly not from God, but are directly from the evil one. God has given humanity a choice. Either a person can wallow around in their own misery or they can stand up and say, “I can rise above this. I can make it another day. I will help myself and others to find the road to knowledge, faith and healing.” Divine knowledge, derived from what Manichaeans refer to as gnosis, is necessary in understanding why humans suffer in the first place, and why God can not bear the blame for it, and why He permits it, instead of causing it.
We read in the Teaching of Mir Izgadda: “Do not permit despair to lessen your faith; let your faith make you stronger….The Celestial Beings are very well aware of your needs and will make provisions for you in many different ways – especially to those who remain faithful in the divine work and do not permit doubt to penetrate their hearts.”1
Once a person has gained proper knowledge and understanding of the world around them and their role in making the world a better place, faith begins to be developed, and in turn compassion for others. At this point a person is able to understand why the choices they have are so intricately woven in a divine system of revelation and restoration. However, even after gaining divine knowledge of these matters, one still must remain determined and steadfast in their faith, removing all forms of doubt, and maintaining a strong relationship with God and always being thankful in what He has provided, even through the bad times.
Mir Izgadda says, “God will give you strength in times of difficulty, fortitude in times of persecution and hope in the face of death. Always be determined to serve God with all your strength. Never give up hope, even in the face of opposition.”1
If a person makes the choice to blame God for his or her pain, he or she will continue to live in a world of suffering and darkness – never seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. God, through His Divine Messengers, gives humans a special understanding, and a special portion of His Spirit of holiness to assist them in enduring the trials of the human experience. Without this special Spirit upon them, humans are unable to deal with the evil and pain around them. Of course, this does not mean that people of faith never suffer. The special blessing from God helps the believer cope with the evil they witness in the world around them. It is a matter of developing a new perspective or outlook on life. It is a matter of choosing to accept this special provision from God and doing works of righteousness according to God’s principles. You will either be blessed or you will suffer due to your own actions. If you choose to drink poison, you will suffer the consequences. If you take medication when you are sick, your body will be healed as a consequence. There are always two sides to the story and there are always choices.
“One can better cope with the challenges of life and the chaos of the world by faithfully walking in the Light of the Great Father – for His Word, which is the Word of Truth which I have brought unto you, is like a light house brightly shining upon the deep ocean signalling you to your true home. Faith never fails when there is no doubt. Love never fails when there is no hatred. Hope never fails when you have proper faith and unconditional love.”1
“All humanity has free will to choose life or death.”1
A person can either take God’s healing hand and be lifted above the suffering and pain, or one can follow in the footsteps of the evil one and continue to sink down in the mire of every day pain and sorrow. Humanity has free-will. Individuals can choose a life of sorrow or a life of blessing. That choice is up to you to make.
God is all-powerful. We can clearly see this through His provision of making a way out for humanity so they will no longer suffer and endure pains and the hardships of life in the physical shell. When you make the choice to accept this fact and realise that the body and that life on earth is temporary, you then begin to realise that your suffering has become much smaller than what it actually is. Through God’s own power He makes it possible for you to no longer suffer. That is part of God’s love for humanity.
“The body is only going to one place – the grave, but the soul has choices and the results are eternal.”1
There is a much greater purpose for the soul. Many can not see this fact right now, and as a result, they often turn against God and blame Him for their problems. This is not the path to take however. God has many blessings for those who love Him and who continue to develop their faith in Him and His purpose for His children. To this end He has sent many of His own Divine Servants to earth so they can take hold of your hand and give you strength and hope so that one day soon you will no longer suffer. Because of this hope, the Father’s children give praise to Him for His manifold provisions and blessings.
Without hope humanity would have nothing. God’s promises help us to maintain the hope that the future is only a blink away. Mar Mani the Prophet said, “Nothing in this world is permanent. We are promised time and again that a better world awaits us – a world without sorrow, sickness, pain or death. The future is bright because it is secured by the One who promised it – The Third Messenger, Mir Izgadda, our Saviour and beloved Teacher.”3
“Through true faith, within the Will of the Creator, everything is possible; but where there is no faith, there is nothing but uncertainty and failure. Cultivate faith and put away doubt from your heart by occupying yourself with the study of the Word of Truth and the practising of the Twelve Virtues.”1
1 Quotations from the book, Teachings of Mir Izgadda and Mar Mani Khaila. Also available in Portuguese and Spanish.
2 “Divine Light Brings True Hope to the World”
3 “Never Give up Hope of a Better Future”
Originally published 11 December 2013
Republished 25 June 2014
Updated 26 March 2015
Photo acknowledgment: Pixabay, public domain images.