This article reflects the personal viewpoint of Awe in Autism cofounder and president Deborah French, and not necessarily that of the Awe in Autism administration or Board. Awe in Autism is a not-for-profit organization aimed at supporting and promoting individuals on the autism spectrum and those who care for them, particularly emphasizing artistic endeavors worthy of recognition. The organization welcomes submissions from people of all views, backgrounds and perspectives.
A God Who Doesn’t Care?
If God cared about people, he wouldn’t allow suffering.
I’ve heard this logic from many good friends in the course of my life. A God who lets babies die, lets wars rage, lets disease spread, lets poverty continue, cannot be a God who cares about people.
I believe the opposite is true: that the very presence of suffering in our lives is evidence of God’s goodness.
Have you ever eaten so much chocolate that (for just a brief moment in time) you thought you’d never want to eat it again? It’s what we call “too much of a good thing,” right? We all know it’s possible to overindulge in sweets or rich foods – but is it also possible to overindulge in, say, good health, or peace, or happiness? I believe it is.
At first, it seems that everything would be lovely. People would go around with their iPods singing and dancing, eating and drinking to satisfaction and lounging peacefully as they pleased. Not a bad way to pass the days. Oh, but wait. Our scenario assumes that all people are also kind, loving and unselfish. Otherwise, pretty soon someone’s going to get the idea of taking a little more food or water from someone else who has more…and that idea could catch on quickly. Uh-oh…I smell a war coming on. And with all those people having their food and water taken away, someone’s going to get sick. And mad. Bigger war coming. This isn’t looking so good. It’s also kind of beginning to look like people are the culprits, rather than God.
In all of this mess, of course, there will also be some people who care about being good to others. They are the ones who give up their own food and water to share it with the others whose supplies have been taken away, who tend to the ones getting sick, and who try to make peace. While this takes a lot out of them, since it is hard and requires sacrifice, they experience an unusual sense of fulfillment because they are helping others. And they discover that despite their tiredness and frustration, they’re serving a valuable purpose… much more satisfying, really, than listening to XM radio all day and eating too much chocolate.
Yes, the suffering around us in the world we do live in is discouraging, often almost unbearable at times. But those who suffer, and those who care for them, are the exceptional ones. These are the people whom God has blessed.
As a Christian, I see a picture of Christ on the cross — the epitome of suffering, and also the epitome of giving. I believe in a God who will end all suffering one day, when those who have been afflicted will be free from pain, and will dance with joy. I believe that then, those in His presence will indeed be made perfectly kind, perfectly loving and perfectly unselfish. Until then, though, the people who most need our care and attention are serving a tremendously valuable purpose in the world – and the world is unquestionably a better place for their existence.
About Deborah H. French
Deborah French is co-founder and president of Awe in Autism, a not-for-profit organization created to provide inspiration and encouragement to those impacted by autism. The organization’s website features a gallery of original works of art, music, literature, poetry, photography and video created or inspired by individuals with autism. In addition, Awe in Autism sponsors live arts exhibitions featuring works of many of these artists and performers. Deborah’s partner, Awe in Autism co-founder/vice president Kim Covell, is the parent of a child on the autism spectrum. Along with Kim, Deborah has served as a volunteer for the Cody Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities at Stony Brook University. She has four years of study toward her Ph.D. at Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara, where her research has concentrated heavily on autism in the context of media psychology.
Deborah’s background includes teaching English at New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, New York and, for the past 16 years, working for the public relations firm Zimmerman/Edelson, Inc., where she serves as creative director for publications and new media. She enjoys writing songs and has performed as a vocalist in various locations across the country. She is the proud mom of three young men and recently became a grandmother.