Feeling My Way Through The Dark   3 comments

The bright-faced children (and adults) whose lives were snuffed out in Newtown look out at me from the screen as their talents and personalities and families are profiled.  It makes me cry.  It is not just the sadness of this one event, but the tragedy of the whole history of the world that washes over me.  Even as I write this and you read this, folks all over the world are being mutilated, raped, burned alive, enslaved, beaten, starved; they are being traumatized, rejected, hated, abandoned.  As my wife says, “Why did God think this was a good idea?”

Whatever clever answers we give theologically, our daily reality is inescapable–we live in a malicious, dangerous world and we are not safe from harm.  Faith-filled followers of God are raped, blinded, stoned alive; some lose family and friends, a good reputation, mental health, productive ministry, even a sense of  God’s presence all through no fault of their own.  It is a scary world, and that makes me cling all the more tightly to every bit of control I can leverage.

The more I control, the safer I feel.  I create a safe theology of a loving God who would allow no harm to his children… and 20 kindergarteners are massacred.  Suddenly, my theology cracks and fissures.  If I cannot predict what love will do, how can I trust it… how can I even understand it?  God himself no longer feels safe.  The cross in my past and the heaven in my future counterbalance these doubts but do not resolve them.  A gap remains between the theology of a loving God and the reality of a terrible world, and it cannot be bridged rationally.  The ‘why’ is never fully answered.  An honest faith is much more strenuous than I ever realized.

I recognize this dynamic in my marriage.  My wife loves me at a fundamental level, and I trust this love when I smack against painful and scary tensions, conflicts, and misunderstandings in our relationship.  We eventually sort it out, we are both better for it, and our relationship, love, and commitment are deepened.  In the middle of the fight, I can easily doubt her love, but it is not a fundamental doubt–I do not question our marriage.  We have been through so many things together without breaking apart that I trust the relationship even when my feelings are in full retreat.  A strong relationship is not one without doubts, but one that endures the doubts.



Posted December 20, 2012 by janathangrace in Personal, thoughts

3 responses to “Feeling My Way Through The Dark

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  1. This resonates with me: “An honest faith is much more strenuous than I ever realized.”
    I hear a lot of formulas about how to respond to pain and suffering, and a lot of seemingly simple answers as to why things like mass shootings happen. Living with the mysteries of a truly unfathomable God is so much harder… admitting we just don’t know takes huge faith. I like your idea of seeing relationship with God as like a relationship with a person… sometimes we just trust that we have a foundation…and we weather the storm until the feelings of assurance come back.

  2. Oh – god never thought it was a good idea, from experience I know that he suffers with us when we suffer. We live in a sinful world that turns its back on god daily, and then wonders where he is in the midst of tragedy. He is were he has always been, it is us who has moved. By faith I choose to believe that God is good, all the time.

    In His Grace –

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