I was on the good ol’ Facebook yesterday just looking at my newsfeed. It was a mish mash of people posting pictures, some updates from musical artists I “liked”, people telling me a little about their lives, etc. One post caught my eye though, as posts like this usually do. What caught my eye was just the word God. The status update equated to that even though bad things are happening in your life, it’s okay because God is going to do things to fix your life. It gave me pause, not because of my agreeing with the statement, but because of the theology that this kind of saying is reflective of.
While I have no problem with the idea of God working in our lives, I do have a problem with the idea that God fixes problems in our lives for us. This is not because I think that God is incapable of working miracles or being involved in God’s creation, but because this would mean that God values some people’s lives over others. I think of the child in Africa who is starving because of a warlord hoarding all of the resources of the country, or the farmer in Kansas whose entire livelihood has been burnt to a crisp because of the recent drought, or the young pregnant girl who is with child because of a rape. I understand the solace that can be found in the idea that God will make things better for these people, but the question then becomes if God can make things better for these particular people, why didn’t God just prevent it in the first place?
This type of question falls under the theological theme of Theodicy. Theodicy tries to answer the question of why there is evil in the world. How come bad things happend to good people? How come innocent beings, animals and plants included here, suffer for no apparent reason? Couldn’t God just intervene and stop this?
How are we supposed to respond to this type of question?
Do we just give up our faith in the goodness of God? Do we give up our faith in God completely?
If we as Christians are to be responsible to our faith and to ourselves in answering how we are to respond to this problem of evil, then we need only look in our holy book and to our central figure, Jesus.
I am in the camp, as most Christians I suspect are in, that thinks that Jesus was a real person who lived, breathed, and died here on this Earth. I also believe that Jesus was crucified, and while I haven’t myself seen or been crucified by myself, I suspect it was a pretty painful experience. And while we cannot say that Jesus actually said it, we do have the tradition of the cry of dereliction, ” “And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'” This come from the Gospel of Mark 15:34. In a time of immense suffering and pain, Jesus called out to God, saying “Why God, why did you let this happen to me?”
Just like Jesus, a faithful response to the witness of suffering and evil would be to question our creator. We see that our faith has a tradition of it in Jesus and the Jewish tradition as well in Psalm 74 and in Job. I will admit that it is not as comforting as a theology that thinks that God will make everything better, but sometimes discomfort might be what God wants from God’s creation. I don’t know though, because God is so much bigger than you or I can conceive of fully, and I am okay with that, are you?