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Guest Mores

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Guest Mores

Once upon a time there was in Greek Mythos a man named Tiresias.  Apparently there are dozens of versions of his story.  But to be brief and on topic I'll tell the version I heard in my early years.

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Tiresias was walking through the forest when he decided to visit the lake to get a drink of water.  As he came upon the lake, he noticed the goddess Athena bathing with her attendants.  Being a proper man, he immediately averted his eyes and began to walk away..  But it was too late.

Athena noticed him and struck him blind for daring to look upon the unclad body of Athena.  Tiresias begged her pardon emphasizing the accidental event and his attempt to avert his eyes. Athena, accepting his apology, understanding his plight, attempted to remedy the situation.   Unfortunately, when something "miraculous" is done by a god, it cannot be undone by a god (common theme in Greek mythology).

So, she gave him the power of prophecy.  While his physical vision would be gone forever, he was able to see with a spiritual eye into all things past, present, and future.

This story outlines the oft quoted axiom,"When God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window."

As a child, throughout my youth, and on beyond my college years, I found many who believed this idea.  That always gave them hope.  Bad things happen.  But if we lean on the Lord and have faith, we find that some good can come of it.  I feel that this principle has been lost in American culture within my lifetime. 

Why does God allow tragedy?  Because good always comes of it.  That is not just the way God planned it (though He did) but even the laws of randomness demand it.  Opposition in all things.  There is an eternal reason for this.  It isn't just to "teach us to appreciate what we have".  It isn't about testing us in adversity.  It is much simpler than that.  Eastern religions call it "karma".  Some the "Tao".  Others have different names for it.  But in Christianity, we don't see such "balance" as easily.  But we, above all others, should see it most clearly.

Jesus' infinite sacrifice tipped the scales.  Balance demands that infinite good shall come out of infinite sacrifice.

In spite of this, too many people will complain about their circumstances.  They complain about a miraculous gift of modern science that almost everyone owns -- the cell phone.  It is a walking minicomputer that can communicate virtually anything and do more things than we can write down in 10 minutes.  And we take it for granted.  We even complain when there is a glitch or takes too long to connect.

You want to know why God allows tragedies?  Let Him ask you why He let His Only Begotten Son suffer such that He bled great gouts of blood and to tremble because of pain.  Good must always come out of it.

You want to know how to move beyond tragedy?  Recognize that the Atonement of Christ truly changed EVERYthing.  The balance of eternal justice demands that good come out of that infinite Atonement.  We need to partake of that advantage through faith on Him who bore our burdens, our stripes, our sins, and our sorrows. 

Too much focus on our suffering and not enough focus on the Lord's.  Focusing on our suffering only makes us wallow.  Focusing on Jesus' suffering gives us hope.  His sorrow means that we will find that window where a door was closed.  Christ demands it.

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Sometimes the door that opens takes us in the footsteps of Christ and our suffering becomes a sacrifice for those that follow us.  As a descendent of Utah Pioneers I will share a story of a great great grandmother that walked to Utah as a 8 year old child bear foot.  Her sacrifice for the journey meant that she would limp and struggle to walk for the rest of her life.  But when she was given a pair of shoes after arriving in Utah - she gave them away and sent them back east so some other little girl would not have to walk across the planes bear foot as she did.  It is not just that Jesus suffered - but that he turned his suffering into a means by which others are blessed.

 

The Traveler

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On 5/30/2019 at 5:22 AM, Mores said:

Why does God allow tragedy?  Because good always comes of it.

I believe this but in cases of mass devastation, the good is hard to find and long in coming (next life?).   So should we work to alleviate or stop tragedies? Jesus suggested we should, but I just can't in some cases.  I just watched a documentary about homeless children in Bangladesh.  I can't really help the Bangladeshi children unless maybe I abandoned my family and sold all I have and moved there and gave away all my goods.   How much do I sacrifice to help others? 

Every news reports says I am soon to burn up in a flaming ball of CO2 very soon but my buying an electric car will have 0.00000000000000000000000000000000001%  effect on greenhouse gases.  IF 2 billion Asians suddenly stop burning coal something MIGHT change.   I Have been taking regular "fasts" from the news 'cuz I can't help people in Sudan or Venezuela.  So why do I feel so guilty while seeing all this?   Maybe I shouldn't even bother thinking about this stuff because, well,  good always come from tragedy(?).

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This is such a fascinating topic, and I am appreciative to hear different viewpoints on how and why suffering and tragedy are parts of our lives and the lives of G-d's children throughout the history of the world.

If I may be allowed to put in my two shekels...

Jews, in some regards,  read the Bible differently. One of the most striking features of the Torah (and all of the Tenakh, for that matter) is that the the most challenging questions about fate come not from unbelievers (those who either don't know G-d or do but choose not to believe), but, rather, from those heroes of faith themselves. Abraham asked: "Shall the Judge of all the Earth not do justice?" Moses asked: "Why have You done evil to this people?" The entire book of Job is dedicated to this question, and in the end it is not Job's comforters, who blamed his misfortunes on his sins, who were vindicated by heaven, but Job himself, who consistently challenged G-d. In Judaism, faith lies in the question, not the answer. 

Questions are of such deep importance, and they would have been expected...especially during the time of the Second Temple (Jesus' day). In my studies of Christianity, it is fascinating to note how when Jesus was asked questions, he would often respond with...another question. This was quite typical of rabbis in his day. Rabbis were not interested in hearing a regurgitation of things they had taught their students. They asked questions so as to ascertain if their students had fully grasped what they were being taught. Taught about Torah and taught about interpretation and taught about how a certain passage should be made flesh and lived, as it were.

So for me as a Jew (and a rabbi), the real question is, therefore, not: "Why did this happen?" But "What then shall I do about it?" The Jewish response is not to seek to understand, thereby to accept. We are not the Almighty, blessed be He. Instead, we are the people He has called on us to be his partners in the work of creation. The only adequate response, by my way of thinking, is to say: "G-d, I do not know why this tragic thing has happened, but I do know what You want of us: to help the afflicted, comfort the bereaved, send healing to the injured, and aid those who have lost their livelihoods and homes. We cannot understand G-d, but, G-d willing, we can strive to imitate His love and care to the very best of our ability.

That was probably more than two shekels worth of drivel. May you be well, my friends.

Edited by Aish HaTorah

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Guest Mores
7 hours ago, jdf135 said:

I believe this but in cases of mass devastation, the good is hard to find and long in coming (next life?).   So should we work to alleviate or stop tragedies? Jesus suggested we should, but I just can't in some cases.  I just watched a documentary about homeless children in Bangladesh.  I can't really help the Bangladeshi children unless maybe I abandoned my family and sold all I have and moved there and gave away all my goods.   How much do I sacrifice to help others? 

Every news reports says I am soon to burn up in a flaming ball of CO2 very soon but my buying an electric car will have 0.00000000000000000000000000000000001%  effect on greenhouse gases.  IF 2 billion Asians suddenly stop burning coal something MIGHT change.   I Have been taking regular "fasts" from the news 'cuz I can't help people in Sudan or Venezuela.  So why do I feel so guilty while seeing all this?   Maybe I shouldn't even bother thinking about this stuff because, well,  good always come from tragedy(?).

I have faith that the Lord knows the limits.  And by no means should anyone take my statements to mean that we should want MORE evil and tragedy.  But God knows how to balance things.  He allows what he will by His wisdom.

He calls upon all of us to alleviate suffering wherever we may have power to do so.

Edited by Mores

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Guest Mores
7 hours ago, Aish HaTorah said:

In Judaism, faith lies in the question, not the answer. 

I was going to rebut this.  But as I read further...

7 hours ago, Aish HaTorah said:

So for me as a Jew (and a rabbi), the real question is, therefore, not: "Why did this happen?" But "What then shall I do about it?"

I believe I may have misinterpreted the former statement.  I have heard many times that it is more important to ask questions than to find the answers.  I always thought that was a stupid statement.  What's the point in asking questions if you do not wish for an answer.  I'd be more inclined to think that "searching" for the answer to the question may be of greater importance than finding it (sometimes).

But I realized that what is really meant is: The important thing is "which question?"  Faith is demonstrated in what questions one asks and how the questions are asked.  Faith does not come from having all the answers.  This certainly rings true.

Then faith again is demonstrated in what actions we take either in the search or after having received the answer.

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22 hours ago, Aish HaTorah said:

the real question is, therefore, not: "Why did this happen?" But "What then shall I do about it?" 

Your kind comments have lead me to some good pondering.  Nevertheless, when I look at my limitations and the immensity of suffering, "What then shall I do about it?"

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On 6/3/2019 at 8:37 PM, jdf135 said:

Your kind comments have lead me to some good pondering.  Nevertheless, when I look at my limitations and the immensity of suffering, "What then shall I do about it?"

I would most certainly have to appeal to Holy Writ for the answer to this:

 

My son, forget not my teaching;

But let thy heart keep my commandments;

For length of days, and years of life,

And peace, will they add to thee.

Let not kindness and truth forsake thee;

Bind them about thy neck, write them upon the table of thy heart;

So shalt thou find grace and good favour

In the sight of God and man.

Trust in the LORD with all thy heart,

And lean not upon thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge Him,

And He will direct thy paths.

Proverbs 3:1-6

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On 6/4/2019 at 9:55 PM, Aish HaTorah said:

Let not kindness and truth forsake thee;

Bind them about thy neck, write them upon the table of thy heart;

So shalt thou find grace and good favour

In the sight of God and man

Is it enough to keep kindness at the forefront of my heart?

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