I was speaking with my father today. He was conducting a class and they were discussing New Orleans and G-d’s role. Why does G-d allow for suffering? The atheist will use the disaster to show there is no G-d. As an agnositic that leans toward belief in G-d, the question does not affect my faith or lack therof. Anyway, I was subsequently doing some reading and came across this simple story in a lecture by Rabbi Ahron Hock: “There once was a farmer who owned a horse. And one day the horse ran away. All the people in the town came to console him because of the loss. “Oh, I don’t know,” said the farmer, “maybe it’s a bad thing and maybe it’s not.”
A few days later, the horse returned to the farm accompanied by 20 other horses. (Apparently he had found some wild horses and made friends!) All the townspeople came to congratulate him: “Now you have a stable full of horses!” “Oh, I don’t know,” said the farmer, “maybe it’s a good thing and maybe it’s not.”
A few days later, the farmer’s son was out riding one of the new horses. The horse got wild and threw him off, breaking the son’s leg. So all the people in town came to console the farmer because of the accident. “Oh, I don’t know,” said the farmer, “maybe it’s a bad thing and maybe it’s not.”
A few days later, the government declared war and instituted a draft of all able-bodied young men. They came to the town and carted off hundreds of young men, except for the farmer’s son who had a broken leg. “Now I know,” said the farmer, “that it was a good thing my horse ran away.”
The point of this story is obvious. Life is a series of events, and until we’ve reached the end of the series, it’s hard to know exactly why things are happening…. The piece concludes with the following poem: I asked for strength and God gave me difficulties to make me strong.
I asked for wisdom and God gave me problems to solve.
I asked for prosperity and God gave me brawn and brain to work.
I asked for courage and God gave me dangers to overcome.
I asked for love and God gave me troubled people to help…
My prayers were answered.” This seems to fit in with what I told my father. If you look at an isolated event, it is difficult to understand G-d, and if G-d is a loving G-d, then events like this may seem cruel and lead one to believe G-d is vengeful. We certainly cannot understand G-d. It is not understandable if you only look at the event itself. You need to be able to see the larger picture. If ten years from now, NO has been rebuilt and the terrible poverty endemic to the city has been sizeably reduced and the corrpution has abated, then perhaps, what has happened really is for the good. If those in poverty, who were the people we saw on the news everynight, have made a better life for themselves elsewhere, and their children have received a better education, have grown and pulled themselves from the poverty, then maybe that was for the good. There is a saying” that which does not kill you will make you stronger”. I don’t know who to attribute it to. Have you ever known anyone who looking back on a tragedy in their life who says it was a blessing? There is no benefit in hope, if hope is only for hope’s sake. Something needs to change. If not us, then maybe G-d makes the change. Something to think about.