A friend recently asked how can one keep one’s belief. Especially if one has had times or situations of hardship.
The first question is not “Why do the good suffer?” One can not even begin to approach this question unless you have established a belief in G-d. Why do I believe in G-d? I simply look at the world—the Rocky Mountains, the eco system, the hexagons in a beehive, the endocrine system…..and I simply do not believe that it can be an accident. If it was all from evolution, why do we not see more fossils of the non-adaptive, not plausible forms? No, I am convinced that there is a G-d. The odds of such an intricate world being created by chance is so infinitely improbable, that compared to it the US lottery should be a cinch to win.
Once I believe that there is a G-d, THEN I can ask why does He let man suffer. Why does He allow evil people to crush others? Why does He allow a world that seems to make no sense? And how can we have “religious” people who are so imperfect?
My basic view is that G-d did not give us any guarantees about life being good, being easy, or being “just”. I can hope in an afterlife that will “even” things out. I can try to behave the way I feel G-d wants. At least I have the satisfaction that in this way I am trying to make the world a better place. Other’s don’t? So I am not perfect either. We all need to work on ourselves. And lucky are those who do.
The “religious” fellow who acts poorly may not truly believe in consequences to his actions (probably because he was brought up to “do” certain customs, but deep belief was not really taught). Or it could be that he has personality problems that are interfering with his knowledge of what is right (which happens to all of us at times, to some degree). Religious belief can help me act better, but it can not force me to do so. I can pay for membership in a gym, but if I do not exercise my spiritual muscles, they will stay flabby, despite the “gym” membership.