If we can thank God for our fortunes why can we not blame him for our misfortunes?
First of God is not responsible for all misfortunes in our human existence. But why does God allow evil?
God can always obtain a greater good out of any particular evil that may assail us. We must constantly pray for his Divine assistances and bless him as his servant Job did during his misfortunes.
Perhaps no book of the Old Testament better illustrates the existence and operation of both moral and natural evil in the life of a good person than the Book of Job. Presenting the story of a pious, God-fearing man whom God strikes with various ills as a test of his faith, the Book of Job provides us with an accurate look into the perceptions of nearly every soul afflicted with great suffering in spite of being a faithful servant of God. Accordingly, the book records that Job was, “blameless and upright, one who feared God, and turned away from evil.”
The entire Book of Job is essentially a commentary on the problem of evil and how God is so good that He can bring good even out of something which is not good.
Even so, this leaves us still with the question of why divine providence appears to favor some more than others. For indeed, it seems that God permits greater evil to befall one man and less to befall another. If, as Christian philosophers assert, God is perfectly just, how are we to account for this?
Aquinas again provides us with some insight into this complex question when he writes that, “When it is said that God left man to himself, this does not mean that man is exempt from divine providence; but merely that he has not a prefixed operating force determined to the one effect.”
In others words, when God permits evil to befall humanity, it is not because He has removed His protecting hand altogether, but simply that man’s destiny is no longer immediately oriented toward the goal for which man was originally intended. This fact alludes to our earlier discussion on the importance of man’s free will in relation to divine providence, in that man is completely free, for the sake of his dignity, to choose a path for himself which strays from the good for which God intended him.
Continuing, Aquinas further clarifies that, “God, however, extends His providence over the just in a certain more excellent way than over the wicked; inasmuch as He prevents anything happening which would impede their final salvation.”
From these words alone, it is becomes clear that God does indeed favor certain individuals more than others with regard to His providential protection and distribution of divine grace. However, as these words also clarify, God distributes grace and protection according to man’s correspondence with His will.
This perhaps enables us to more clearly understand why some men are privileged to be born into the holy Catholic Faith in a prosperous nation whereas some are born as poor, starving savages in the backwoods of some African village. It is not based on mere chance, nor can it be the arbitrary decision of an indifferent God, but is rather the providential working of a loving God which says that this particular man has the greatest chance of salvation if he is born into a wealthy, Catholic family whereas this other man’s salvation is best suited for a poor, short life away from the contemporary temptations of modern society. Aquinas describes this philosophically when he writes that, “for the completion of the universe there are required different grades of being; some of which hold a high and some a low place in the universe. That this multiformity of grades may be preserved in things, God allows some evils, lest many good things should never happen, as was said above.”
Yet if this were so, some will argue, then how are we to account for the damnation of souls at all? If every man is born with precisely those goods which will best enable him to attain salvation, then how can it be that so many men reject those goods in favor of something less? - Why Does God Permit Evil?
God is thus not to be blamed for he simply permits evil to exist, whether on a spiritual or natural level.
“Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: as it hath pleased the Lord so is it done: blessed be the name of the Lord. In all these things Job sinned not by his lips, nor spoke he any foolish thing against God.” - (Job 1.21-22)
Just as Job blessed God in the mists of all he suffered, so should we strive to accept our lot from God to both good and bad times, blessing his Holy Name in all circumstances of our lives. This is not something easily done, but with God’s grace everything is possible.
We can always recall the words of The Apostle, St. Paul in his sufferings and trials:
Another dimension of Paul’s thought on the meaning of suffering is his conception of suffering as a means for sanctification, keeping pride at a minimum and trust in God at a maximum. He says:“And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’…For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
Yes we can suffer immensely and misfortunes may overtake us, but we must always look towards the Cross and how much Our Divine Lord suffered for our sakes during his passion. Keep our gaze fix on the source of our redemption and our misfortunes and suffering may be easier to carry.
We, like Christ, must bear the cross. But must we bear it alone? When we unite ourselves to Christ and resolve to bear a difficult and dangerous cross in a “time of adversity” and of “crushing misfortune,” must we bear that cross alone?
This is the importance of the story of Simon of Cyrene: even Jesus had help bearing His cross. “Bearing your cross” need not be understood as an admonition to Stoic individualism. While it is true that no one can bear your sufferings but you, the Gospel message is that you need not – indeed should not – bear them alone. In times of trial, we trust in the love and fidelity of God and of others: those doctors, lawyers, counselors, and friends who can become, as we are all called to become, instruments of God’s love and God’s healing grace. - The Man Who Shared the Cross
If Job never sinned during all his affections, sufferings and misfortunes, let us strive to imitate him as best we can, praying and blessing God in all things.
As St. Benedict’s phrase puts it so nicely:
Ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus (That in all things God may be glorified)