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EBS93: Why Doesn't God...?

Eric Butterworth Speaks: Essays on Abundant Living #93

Delivered by Eric Butterworth on September 30, 1975

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I had a letter just the other day that asked a question that we hear so often. It was after some tragedy had taken place in the city, and this person in his question asked, “Why doesn’t God do something about that?” How often do people ask this sort of question in times of difficulty: “Why doesn’t God stop the war? Why does God allow people to slaughter one another? Why doesn’t God heal this condition? How can God allow an airplane to crash? Why doesn’t God solve the labor dispute, so that we can all go back to work?”

But you see even as we ask questions like these, we evidence a complete lack of understanding about the nature of being. Most of us, I am sure, have been conditioned to the concept of duality: God as being an anthropomorphic diety who sits off someplace with the bolts of heaven in his hands and who has the power to do all things. But when things become out of hand, and we have these tremendous conflagrations and tragedies, then it becomes obvious that God, if He is the great power of the Universe, certainly has the power to correct the situation. “Why doesn’t He do something about it? Why does He allow it to happen?”

Well, the will of God is not a capricious or arbitrary determination. On the contrary, God’s will is the ceaseless longing on the part of the infinite to perfect Himself in His creation. It’s a force like gravity, a divine desire to express health and harmony and right adjustment. But you see, neither war nor sickness nor accidents nor poverty nor strikes nor grievances have any place in the mind of the infinite. These exist only as a need for guidance and understanding, and God is always the answer to that need. Always within is there a force ready to flow into expression, to fill whatever may be the difficulty.

Now, man may sense the divine longing to help and heal; the problem is he often misreads its meaning. He may feel this inner longing as an inquisitiveness that leads to conquest, or he may feel it as a love that leads to peace; he may feel this divine longing as a hunger that leads to overindulgence, or as a yearning for truth that leads to faith and wholeness. But it is one and the same force—the divine presence within.

We live and move and have our being in the allness or the omnipresence of God. The activity of God is always present, ever present, equally present in all situations, in all experiences. And more than that, this activity is involved in whatever we do, wherever we are. We use the same power whether we are rising to success or floundering in mediocrity; whether we are in radiant health or suffering in dis-ease-j- the same force is at work within us—the activity of God-life.

Usually, the question “Why?” infers the thought that we are the victims of a cruel fate or the capricious will of God. In a sense, the person who asks “Why?” is demanding that the landlord understand what is going on here: “Why doesn’t He get busy? Why doesn’t he fix the roof?” Or, he is blaming it all on fate: “I couldn’t help it. It just happened. It wasn’t my fault. I was just unlucky.” But you see, the more we ask “Why?” in this sense, the more we give in to self-pity, a sense of defeatism, and a feeling, “Well, after all, what can you do if you have no choice?” But I say so often that there is no such thing as a choiceless life. We always have a choice. And we have a choice to ask the kind of “Why?” that is constructive.

In other words, not “Why doesn’t God do something about this? Why do these terrible things happen?” but, “Why should I allow this to disturb me? Why should I be upset? Why can I not draw on my innate God-inner power tc solve this problem? Why should I not let the personal experience in the world of affairs be a challenge to a greater faith?”

Remember, Jesus once said, “In the world ye have tribulation, but behold I have overcome the world.” In other words, he is recognizing that wherever there are people in human consciousness and law, there are conflicts and difficulties and mistakes and failures, but wherever I am in spiritual consciousness, I am above all this, and I need not be negatively influenced by it. Or at least I can turn whatever the outer stimuli might be into an influence for good. Job struggled with the question “Why?”. Remember, he said in many different ways, “Why should I, a good man, suffer so?” But Job suffered not in punishment for wrong-doing, but in demonstration of the law of consciousness. Satan in the drama of Job is actually a state of negative consciousness within Job. It was his own doing. In other words, Job believed in error, in sickness, in poverty, and perhaps even feared this, because later you remember he said, “That which I have feared has come upon me.”

So the question, “Why do the good suffer?” must be answered, “Because they are not good enough!” Now, this may seem shocking when someone we think of as being the epitome of goodness suffers some tremendous tragedy. But you see, goodness is a relative term. In an absolute sense it is oneness in God completely in thought and in action. Jesus realized that goodness is an ultimate that even he himself was on the way to, that even he himself was seeking through growth and unfoldment the ultimate goodness which would enable him to go through and grow through the greatest tragedy the world could confront him with.

You see, we are dealing with law in which there is no tolerance, no room for near misses. You may say, “I really meant well, or I had the best intentions,” but remember the old saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. To almost keep one’s balance is to fall; to almost put a satellite in orbit is to see it come crashing back down to earth or go flying out of control into oblivion; to almost insulate a wire is to experience a short circuit.

So if there is suffering, there must be sin. Sin in terms of the true meaning, “missing the mark of perfection.” In other words, we are talking about consciousness. The person who may be the good, wonderful, church-going person who has this terrible tragedy may say, “Why? How could God allow this to happen?” However, this person, though good on the outside appearing gracious, helpful, devoted, reverent, may have been terribly negative on the inside. He may have been worried all the time, fearful about this person or that situation. His inner consciousness may have been negative. And life is consciousness, and if consciousness is not open and receptive to the divine flow, then regardless of the external acts of our life, consciousness opens a way to a frustration of the divine process or a perversion of the divine force.

So back to the question, “Why doesn’t God...?” Maybe the question should be rephrased to ask not “Why doesn’t God?”, but “Why doesn’t man?” We cannot contract the infinite, but we can expand the finite. We must expand our awareness to the point of conviction that we are dealing with a power in which and to which all things are possible. As Jesus said, “It will be done a£ we believe.” But you make the difference! “Why don’t you do something? What can you do?” You may or may not be able to help in some outward way, physically or materially, but you can always do something spiritually—you can stop worrying, you can stop asking the question “Why?”, you can stop railing against luck or the universe or God—instead, you can be still and know your oneness with the divine flow and be a channel for the projection of spiritual power. Of course, God can stop the war or heal the condition or solve the labor dispute. However, He cannot and will not do it for man, but He always can do it through man. And He will inevitably if we are willing to let go and let the “peace that passeth understanding” flow through us, and let the healing life which is constantly supporting us have its way in us.

Meister Eckhart puts it very clearly when he says, “God expects but one thing of you, and that is that you should come out of yourself insofar as you are a created being and let God be God in you.” Let God be the answer through you. Let God be the flow of love, of life, of protection. Believe in your heart of hearts that you know God in you will solve the difficulties you are so concerned about. God will establish peace within you when you are peaceful. God will make you whole when you are wholesome. God will become the very spark and spirit of success in your life when you are success-full, when your consciousness is full of an idea of success.

© 1975, by Eric Butterworth

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