Two people close to me have been recently diagnosed with malignant breast cancer. “Why?” we are tempted to ask when faced with such misfortunes. Why me? Why now?
It’s natural to first ponder whether one’s life choices have somehow led to such an unfortunate plight. Unless you have excessively abused drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and/or food over a long period of time it is easy to rule this option out. “Hey, I need to lose a few pounds but cancer-----come on!”
The next level of questioning moves to theology: What have I done to deserve this? Why is God punishing me? I suppose such thoughts never occur to atheists, with their “I’m here--I’m gone--whatever” philosophy. But for those of us who believe in some form of Higher Intelligence it’s natural to question the fairness of a Plan that includes our possible premature demise. Somehow “the Lord working in mysterious ways” isn’t particularly comforting when it’s your illness that’s part of the mystery.
I’ve long thought that our enjoyment of games is rooted in their similarity to the design of the Universe, specifically involving the element of randomness. Take Monopoly as an example. There is a 3-dimensional field of play, and there are specific rules. Yet as we move our markers around the board we encounter many random components—the roll of the dice; choosing to buy or not buy property; landing on Chance or Community Chest, to name a few.
None of these detract from the integrity of the game. In fact they are the essence of its fun. Is it possible that this frivolous example is a microcosm of Everything? Could the Creator be whimsical and fun-loving enough to create a Universe beyond boring cause-and-effect by spicing things up with a little randomness here and there? If a simple board game isn’t destroyed by unpredictability, by extrapolation why should the Universe?
How ho-hum would Monopoly be if everything were predictable? Drawing a “Go to Jail” card is a temporary setback, but you’re not totally out of the game.
Whatever your specific spiritual beliefs, they probably include some faith in life beyond the physical body—heaven/hell, reincarnation, returning to the Source. Perhaps seemingly random fortune (winning the lottery) or misfortune (cancer) is exactly that—one turn of one round in an Eternal Game.
This notion gives me much more comfort than trying to dissect one’s life searching for clues or questioning the judgment of a Supreme Being. It explains why babies die in plane crashes, gangsters become wealthy rap stars, and all other seemingly unjust anomalies. Trying to understand life with our puny human brain is as futile as attempting to capture the wind in a paper bag.
However you define Faith, it is there that Peace is found.