MISS MOOX + wonderful


Today and lately I have been pondering what is probably the most age-old question there is: human suffering. Specifically, unexplained human suffering where the pain occurs and there seems to be no answer; and even more specifically, when this happens to people who love God. My own unanswerable questions that look like they may go on for the rest of my life, or a significant portion thereof; and a conversation with a Christian colleague who told me of her 7-1/2 year romance with a wonderful Christian man who seemed "perfect" but in the end wouldn't commit, have really nurtured this brew of thoughts in my head.

I guess the questions result from our own fiercely intrinsic, basic need for the world to go "right"; for there to be tidy answers to all the questions; for all the loose ends to be forever tied up and never hanging. When we become Christians, this all seems even more reasonable: a God who loves us, perfectly, and who is perfectly powerful, surely, should be able and willing to make our lives work out smoothly. At least, with no major and inexplicable gaps. After all, he's a loving Father. We're his children. What's the problem?

And then, the man who looked perfect and with whom you shared everything and who acted like he loves you, leaves. A child dies violently. A terminal disease strikes.

I know I'm not asking questions nobody else has asked before. Numerous books have been written on this topic. But I guess I have to wrestle it out for myself, in context of life. It's become surprisingly relevant lately, and I guess I need answers.

There are no answers in terms of the human perspective, that are able to justify the stuff that happens. A human soul wrenched in agony with no seeming end in sight, is not to be trifled with by trying to point out the good bits in the whole thing. There aren't answers you can give to yourself or to someone else about "why".

The only solution I have been able to come up with so far, and the answer my wisest friend gave to me when we talked about this topic, is the fact that right now, as Christians, we are living in the time between the ages. Jesus came and started off the kingdom of God. That's why we get things like eternal life, healing, joy, peace, etc, now. But the kingdom won't fully come until he's finally destroyed Satan, death, hell, sickness, suffering, and pain forever. That's heaven. Until then, God isn't obligated to rescue us from all the results of living in a desperately fallen world. It sucks. We can hurt, badly. Bad stuff does happen. We're still partway in that age, and we can't escape it completely. At least not until Jesus returns.

It makes sense. More than that, I believe it. It leaves us with more questions, and a view to a God and a world who are more complicated than we thought. The gaps still exist. They won't always go away, even if we come to reconciliation with them. But there's faith. Not a blind "leap in the dark", but a somehow-holding-on trust in the character of God. Faith that promises like Romans 8:28--"All things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose"--are still going to happen, albeit not in the way that we thought. And despite the things we think, and feel, deny those promises. . .

Another answer, albeit an often uncomforting one in the midst of your situation (and not one to give to people in the midst of theirs), is the ability of God to turn to good those things that hurt us the most. As example my pastor and his wife, who lost 10 children to miscarriage before giving birth. As he himself says, he'd never go through it again, but he wouldn't trade in what he learned through it, or the closeness to God, or the ability to relate to those who go through similar suffering. And I've seen good fruit of this sort in my life through my own "unanswerables".

I guess part of the answer is they are not good: a loving God does not cause child abuse, or miscarriages, or men who break your heart. They are destructive. But for his children, he is able to turn them to the good of you and others around you. Maybe better good than if they had not happened. Weird. Mysterious.

I'm still in the dark of the "why" or even the good of my current question. Maybe I always will be. But I know that to despair is death. To turn my back on God is death, and blatant foolishness in the light of the love he's shown me constantly. Faith for me means not giving up. Not concluding that he doesn't know what he's doing, doesn't care, isn't involved. Believing that somehow, someday, I will see the good of it. And that there is an answer. . .

This isn't a pat conclusion. I have no patience for those Christians who glibly quote verses like Romans 8:28 and expect it to magically solve all your problems, if only you will believe it. The gap stretches wider than I often think I can bear. I have been in more agony than I thought possible. I'm pretty darn depressed a lot of the time. I haven't dealt with it well most of the time. It's not blind optimism in the face of horror. I still don't totally "get it". I've told God, and told others, that I don't want anything more to do with him. But, the difference I guess is that I'm being held onto. Sometimes I can look up through the darkness and see the constant if dim light of his care for me. Sometimes it shines like a blazing sun. Sometimes I think I'm not holding on at all and I've fallen off into darkness. But, then I learn that I'm being held on to with an unshakeable grip that I can't escape even when I try. And that makes all the difference. And somehow, I can keep walking, even into the dark. . .

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Relevant to: Why? + wonderful