Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Hard Questions

My gut instinct tells me that this blog is no place to hash out great theological questions, but spend enough time watching your father die, and theological questions become unavoidable. I suppose I’m tired of debating with myself, tired of questions that have no answers. For the past three and a half years this blog has been my own personal therapist, and much cheaper than going to a real one, so I will open up this topic to you in the hope that one of you will be able to provide a workable answer.

I have noticed, especially on Facebook, that whenever a favorable wind blows through someone’s life, whenever difficult circumstances suddenly work out for the best, or whenever some serendipitous event or fortuitous windfall arrives, no matter how trivial, Christian people are quick to give God the credit, usually with the horribly tedious formulation, it’s a God thing. However, when God is silent in the face of great unspeakable tragedy, when desperate prayers go unanswered, when the imponderables of life arrive on the stage, God is given a pass. We are told that it isn’t in God’s timing, or that God is trying to teach some valuable lesson to someone, somewhere, or what we are asking him to do isn’t in his will.

Over the past six months as I have watched the sad deterioration of my Dad’s health, I have searched for answers to the question, “why?” For what purpose does Dad endure such a pointless and debilitating ordeal? For what reason is this part of God’s plan? I pray every night for God to allow Dad to be reunited with my Mother. I pray that God will take him home, peacefully in his sleep. But each day brings fresh suffering. I am forced to the conclusion that God’s silence in this matter is either some form of benign neglect, or that my Father’s suffering pleases him in some way, a possibility that disturbs me greatly.

While I am aware that God is under no obligation to answer every prayer that tumbles out of my imperfect heart, after all God isn’t some cosmic vending machine. But with each passing day as I see what Dad’s life has become, I sink further into despair and anger, and my feelings about God become more and more ambivalent.

Maybe we have lapsed into too modern a conception of who God is, proscribing ever more loving and compassionate characteristics to him than are justified by the biblical record. You want to know what’s a God thing? How about judgment and wrath? And from what I have observed over that last six months maybe pain and humiliation are God thing’s too.

So, there you have it. It’s the classic problem of pain I guess. Why do bad things happen to good people? If the purpose of Dad’s suffering is to teach someone a lesson, then whoever you are and wherever you are, please learn it already. We’re dying here.