God. Suffering. Why?
Slightly more thoughtful second entry... Quite busy at the mo still, and haven't yet got into the habit of posting.. Will at some point
There is an inconsistency. Put simply, it is this:
I’m Christian. The basic ‘rules of engagement’ with the world for me go something along the lines of ‘Love EVERYONE. Do all you can to help people – no holding back. Don’t worry about yourself – I’ll take care of making sure you’re ok – just make sure you’re doing Everything you can do for the others.’
And this command isn’t in any way optional. God basically says ‘I care a lot, and you should too’. If there was only one Christian in the entire world, that one man would basically have to fight a one man war to show love to everyone. I’m glad I’m not that one bloke.
(Note that I’m talking about what God wants Christians to do, not what they actually have managed and manage to achieve and ‘achieve’.)
But here’s the thing. This ‘no holds barred’ approach of love to the world that we are commanded to show isn’t followed by God. Cos if it was, there would have been no Tsunami. There would have been no Pompeii. Natural disasters just wouldn’t happen – no one would die of anything but old age or human inflicted causes. (We can hurt each other. God’s given us free will, etc. We use it. It’s not good, but I can accept it without problems with faith – the ‘would you like to be a God-controlled robot’ argument is quite strong, as far as I’m concerned.)
God, who commands me to alleviate any and all human pain and suffering however, wherever and whenever I can, doesn’t live by that rule himself. Which, if I’m honest, looks at first like it’s not particularly fair, and the words ‘divine hypocrisy’ are kinda floating in there. There is a rather large ‘Why’. I’d really, really, really like an answer. But I don’t have one.
So does God lack the power or the will to prevent these things? Can’t take either of those on board and still be a Christian, at least as I understand it. I could do what someone I know did the other day, and walk out, basically saying ‘oi, no, this doesn’t work at all, must have made a mistake’. Hopefully the above makes it clear I can appreciate his point.
But here’s the thing. I’m not taking that route; abandoning my faith and attempting to live a ‘good’ life without any attached ‘superstition’. I can see that path, but I’m not gonna go down it. The second half of this is me figuring out why.
There are logical ideas about why God allows ‘natural’ suffering. I need to read up on them, cos I don’t remember them that well, and to be honest, while my faith isn’t giving up and wandering off because of the recent events, the vague points I have stored in a few brain cells somewhere isn’t the reason.
What it comes down to is faith, and the fact that faith in God, though widely misrepresented, isn’t ‘believing something without proof’. Faith more or less equates to trust on a larger scale – knowing God well enough to know he’s not gonna let you down.
The ‘inconsistency’, under closer examination, comes down to this. I know God loves me, and I know he loves everyone else as well. (That’s my experience talking– while I would love to be able to pass it on to everyone else, I’m talking about My life and faith, etc – if you feel I’m trying to pressure you into believing what I do, I’m not.. sorry if I give the wrong impression.) And this isn’t only ‘because the bible tells me so’ – I can tell stories of how God has shown his love for me in a variety of situations and ways, and I could get a large load more from people I know if I ever needed to. Some are simple, small stuff. Some aren’t so small.
But as well as all the good things I’ve seen him do, there is an extraordinary amount of times when he doesn’t step in and sort it all out. This doesn’t seem to fit with the idea of an almighty and loving Lord, and so there is a conflict between what I see now and what I’ve seen before.
That God cares enough about humans to go through more suffering for us than anyone else could ever have experienced is a cornerstone of my faith. He knows what it’s like to suffer as no one else could. That’s not an answer to ‘why’, but it’s one of the things that helps me deal with the fact I don’t have that answer. And that’s where faith comes in.
I’ve got to trust God to have a good answer, and part of that is accepting that it wouldn’t be trust if he bowed to my demands and told it to me. And that in the long run, me being to some extent forced into having that trust (having already told God in becoming a Christian that he can do with me what he likes) is better for me, and everyone else, than me having an answer.
And this is blind faith, if I understand it right. Not ignoring the suffering (God himself would object if I did that) or ignoring the ‘inconsistency’ I’ve rambled on about so ineloquently above. But to face up to and accept the fact that I don’t know the answer, and still believe that God, despite this, is all the bible says he is.