A modern Psalm revealed in one of my favorites scenes:
The quietness of God, the problem of evil and suffering. It’s a timeless theme. We believe in a benevolent, all-knowing, all-powerful God, yet life often throws us harsh, cold, and cruel circumstances. Enter the free will response – God allows evil to allow free will. For good could not be good and love could not be love, if forced. But on the quietness of God, the supposed needless suffering of so many – the “greater good” churns inside of us. Certainly, if God is all-loving and all-knowing, “the greater good” explanation could hold weight.
But for how long?
Just a very brief survey through human history reinforces the paradox of the theme mentioned in I am Legend. Let’s replace the word “dark seekers” with the word “Nazis”.
Our peace in “the greater good” can only last so long. We eventually break down.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.
(Psalm 22: 1-2)
The Holocaust, genocide, rape, torture, all the unspeakable evils in the timeline of the human history…Earthquakes, hurricanes, squalls, tornadoes, volcanoes – natural disasters that have claimed the lives of so many… Disease, pain, depression – the suffering of the human condition…
It’s paradoxical, in the face of such evil and suffering, to find only the quietness of God. Supposedly an argument against God’s existence, I am finding more and more it an inquiry as to God’s character. For in questioning the “greater good” and the character of God, the existence of God is assumed.
It’s paradoxical in it being an issue that I freely admit I don’t understand. All the reasoned explanations of why God would allow such suffering and injustices are eventually exhausted. It eventually amounts to a decision:
Will you trust Me?
It’s a timeless theme as it started in Genesis, continues the present day, and carries over into tomorrow. Perhaps it’s even more paradoxical that God incarnate said the very same words (Matthew 27:46) which bears pause as we move to consider a deep theological theme:
“If we ask again the question: ‘Why does God allow evil and suffering to continue?’ and we look at the cross of Jesus, we still don’t know what the answer is.” However we now know what the answer isn’t. It can’t be that He doesn’t love us. It can’t be that He is indifferent or detached from our condition. God takes our misery and suffering so seriously that He was willing to take it on Himself.” (Tim Keller, The Reason for God)
For many of us, this is why we fell in love with God. But the Psalm continues to churn within us. Why God? Where are You? We fall in love with God, we cry out, we fall in love once more. The Problem of Evil and Suffering is not only parallel in theme to the Trinity – it’s ultimately a convergence of the same theme. Paradoxical and mysterious, both are reduced to the same question:
“God, please tell me about Yourself.”
We shift from philosophy (existence) to theology (character) and ultimately move to a religious question – are You a God worth loving?
“The question of God is epistemological, when we ask how the universe can be intelligible. It is philosophic when we ask why we should bow to the principle of sufficient reason, when there is no sufficient reason for the existence of contingent things. It is moral when we ask whether the universe has a moral ground and so a moral goal. It is finally religious when we ask whether there is anyone for us to love with all our heart and all our soul and all our mind and all our strength. (Bernard J. F. Lonergan, Philosophy of God, and Theology)”
I believe so I’ll trust. Overwhelmed by grace, I’m inspired. Of the mystery and the paradox, I’m confused.
Trusting. Inspired. Overwhelmed. Confused.
For the rest of my life.