How could God allow that tragedy? Why didn’t He save her? I’ve been praying, why haven’t I been healed?
Many people, even those of great faith, have struggled to reconcile suffering and tragedy with God’s omniscience and omnipotence. Why do some people receive miracles, while others suffer? Fr. Spitzer answers this very question in an EWTN interview.
Fr. Spitzer explains that there are two qualifications for Jesus to perform a miracle: firstly, the removal of the cross must not impede anyone’s salvation, and, secondly, human freedom must be maintained.
First qualification for a miracle: the cross must not affect the salvation of a soul
Beginning with the first qualification, one may ask, “How could receiving a miracle possibly negatively impact my salvation?” Fr. Spitzer explains what the Church and Saints have taught since the time of Christ: most often, suffering leads us to our salvation.
Suffering and our path to heaven
Suffering—mental, physical, emotional—helps us go to heaven. It is through our suffering that our worldview changes, our attachment to sin diminishes, and our reliance on God is strengthened.
Fr. Spitzer gives the example of St. Paul, whose suffering perfected him, transforming him into a Saint. In his letter to the Romans St. Paul shares this same truth:
“...we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” -Rom 5:3-5, RSV
Seeing each cross as an opportunity
Most crosses have opportunities attached that help our salvation, or are necessary for us to help others salvation. For example, a trial one endures as child may later help him or her to assist another person in that same trial later in life, perfecting both souls in the process. Therefore, if Jesus were to perform a miracle, He would only do so if the cross is not necessary to anyone’s salvation.
Second qualification for a miracle: human freedom must be maintained
In the second qualification for a miracle to take place, Fr. Spitzer calls us to consider what the world would be like if God granted every sincere request for a miracle. If this were the case, then there would be no natural law for humans to depend on. The laws of nature would change day to day, based on granted prayers. The world would become chaos with no reliable order and there would be no consequences for our sins.
Without order and consequences, there would be no human freedom. Humans would become merely puppets or actors in a story that is dramatically altered by an omniscient director every time a sin or mistake took place.
Suffering and compassion with others
Fr. Sptizer continues by explaining that not only would humans be robbed of their freedom, they would also be robbed of the ability to be interconnected with other humans. When suffering occurs, we help each other. Doctors learn new treatments, friends comfort each other during times of grief, a sibling donates an organ… when suffering takes place we are given the opportunity to extend our compassion and our help to others.
Why then, do miracles take place at all?
Why then, do miracles take place at all? Fr. Spitzer explains that some people are called to be signs to the world that the compassion and power of God is active. However, it will always be in a way that will not jeopardize their salvation, their ability to help others salvation, or the salvation and freedom of others. All of these things must remain in tact.
Is God’s way of choosing who does and does not receive a miracle fair? Yes. In God’s infinite wisdom, He knows what is fair and what will lead a soul to salvation. He wisely and justly chooses when and who to bestow a special miracle upon, so that person can be a light to the world, restore hope, and remind us that, with God, all things are possible.