During times of national discord, tragedy or personal loss I routinely hear atheists or agnostics ask…if God truly exists why does he allow so much needless suffering to occur? My response…does he? God blessed mankind with free will, not freedom from consequences or misfortune, for that is the inescapable nature of life. What would be the purpose of life in all its magnificence and self-aware glory, without choice or free will, if God constantly needed to intercede on our behalf? The greatest gift also comes with the greatest burden: mortality. Why else would Jesus – a humble, peaceful and compassionate man mocked for his beliefs – endure such endless torture for refusing to renounce his faith in the face of such evil and dire circumstances? Without consequence or conviction learned from the struggle of everyday life, how would humanity recognize or appreciate the smallest blessings born from endeavoring to coexist in a world free from strife? The wisdom of a penniless carpenter who chose to walk in the light of virtue, to sacrifice himself so others may find redemption, could not be extinguished by fear of pain or decree of death. It continues to reside in a universal maxim: you don’t have to be religious to accept God’s love, let alone pray in a church to espouse a moral life. You merely have to accept that divinity and darkness exists in all of us – both in times of triumph and tragedy, charity and senseless depravity – regardless of our eventual fates. Wherever there is hate, there is also hope. Where loved ones will eventually perish, billions will rejoice in the beauty of birth.
The key to peace on Earth is not to waste breaths engaging in endless theological debate, but rather to relish every moment we have together as sentient beings blessed with the ability to discern: to cherish and choose life over needlessly forsaking it. Faith is not a handwritten guarantee or unbreachable protection from daily peril. It’s a lifelong struggle and testament that challenges followers to believe when public sentiment, the faculties of the mind, overwhelmingly tell us not to. The character of Christ did not wilt beneath the unspeakable cruelty surrounding his persecution and crucifixion; it merely strengthened his resolve to embody love. And that is why I will forever endeavor to follow in his footsteps: to shed light during the darkest of times or seek salvation in the darkest corners of the globe.