Why God, Why?
Suffering bugs me, and it seems especially so this week.
No matter how you phrase it:
“Why do bad things happen to good people?”
“Why do good things happen at all to a fallen people in a fallen world?”
or any variation of that.
We suffer. Some more than others. Most more than I.
And this week, I was frustrated by it.
I don’t understand.
In the car.
On the treadmill.
In the shower.
Any answer I could conjure seemed as empty, processed and grotesque as an unfilled Twinkie.
It seemed appropriate then to be reading the chapter entitled “Bearing God’s Image in a Broken World” in Half the Church.
“I would love to live in a perfect world,” Carolyn writes, “but I don’t.
“All too often my culture feeds the illusion that perfection is within my grasp. Even the church contributes to this myth…” and it’s been my experience I that this is especially so within the Church .
It seems to me that the Church in its recognition of suffering as a result of sin often brings it to a personal level.
This is happening to you because of…
Well, if you repented of __________ then maybe this would stop…
We think these things, whether we say them or not. Or at least I do.
“If you follow the formula for right Christian living, we are told, you too can have the perfect marriage, perfect children, perfect health, perfect home, perfect career and plenty of money.”
(If you don’t think this is true, just walk through a Christian bookstore sometime and read the different classifications of books on their shelves.)
“A conflict-free life awaits the faithful follower of Jesus. This myth is more widespread and much closer to home than most of us care to admit. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish Cinderella’s Magic Kingdom from the kingdom of God.”
And so we pray for promotions…
For a good grade, a winning score…
We pray for healing…and we attribute medicine when it works.
And we fear the big question
As if God could not be big enough to take our innocent doubts.
I think of myself often as a child before God. Asking “are we there yet?” or “when’s lunch?” over and over again, or (more often than I’d like to admit) pitching a royal fit as Creator drags me past the aisle of candy and out of the store.
Why do so many innocent women and girls die on the basis of their gender alone?
Why does God allow for so many unborn children to be killed? Why does God stand for some 150 million of the ones who make to grow up without families?
Why hunger and unclean water?
And we can talk and reason and become far to formulaic in our response.
“Well, it’s a result of man’s depravity.”
“Don’t ask why, ask what you can do.”
“I could never believe in a God that would allow such things to happen.”
Whatever your mind automatically drifts to.
But we are created in the image and likeness of a Creator God to devise creative solutions to the desperate brokenness that exists.
And we need that.
The Christian community on a whole suffers from a creativity deficit that rivals that of the financial one in the U.S. budget.
But I believe the roots of this deficit lie within our own refusal see the realities that exist and wrestle with God and the conflict within ourselves.
We must ask the question. Really ask.
“lean into the conflict” as Carolyn puts it, “face it head-on and…engage it.”
I think for many of us, we don’t even make it to this step.
We’re too busy trying to build sandcastles in the sky when there are bricks and mortar in our hands.
“lean into the conflict…face it head-on…engage it. We must ask the hard questions about God, about ourselves, about the state of things in our world, about the meaning of hope and joy and purpose.”
…and only then
“We must also respond to what the conflict asks of us.”
This is the second in a series of posts discussing the ideas presented in the book Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women by Carolyn Curtis James.
You can read the first post here.