I posted this a year ago. I haven’t gotten remotely closer to wrapping my head around it, and so I am reposting today.
I didn’t sleep well last night and I woke up sad and unsettled. For some reason, killing these 20 children and 6 adults in Connecticut yesterday burrowed deep into my heart and has decided to stay put for a while.
What kind of a God would let…..
This sort of thing happens all the time. We all know that. In recent months the news has been full of these “stories.”
But it’s actually far worse. Violence against innocents–whether at the hand of individuals, groups, tribes, or nations–is as old as recorded time. Violence and the drama of human history go hand in hand.
And people have been asking, in one way or another, “Uh, excuse, me, God?” ever since learned scribes began writing about God/the gods on rock, clay, animal skin, and papyrus.
What kind of a God would…. Indeed. In my opinion, this is the grand struggle of any faith in God, a higher power, whatever.
It’s an age old question that no one can solve, but that every college philosophy student and seminarian has to take a deep look at: If God is all loving and all powerful, why do things like this happen? Why does God let them happen? Why doesn’t he do something–now, right here?
Well, like I said, who cares what I think. But these moments test one’s faith more than most. And it makes other “challenges to our faith,” like whether there was a historical Adam or whether the Bible was written after the return from Babylonian exile, look like a splash in a shallow puddle compared to the deep, black, ocean storm of 5 year olds getting shot because they went to school one day.
I can easily get my arms around a God whose book begins with a mythic story of a naked first couple holding a conversation with a serpent, or a Bible that wasn’t written until the 5th century BC. But yesterday? There is nothing “easy” about it.
This is going to sound like advice, but it’s not. Neither is it an answer. But, at times like this three disconnected thoughts come to my mind.
(1) There are many wonderful and beautiful things about the world we live in, but things are also seriously and undeniably [feel free to use the predicate adjective of your choice].
(2) If you believe in God, there will always come a point–and sooner than we tend to think–where our understanding hits a wall at 80 mph.
(3) The way of sorrow and pain is built into the Christian story, particularly the suffering of innocents: the Gospel claims that God himself took part in suffering and death.
Anyway, I’m still unsettled, and sad, and I don’t really feel like editing the next chapter in a book where I have to act like I understand God better than I really do.
[book update: And I'm now revising it and should be done within a month. As soon as I figure out what it's about I will be posting on it.]