Skip to comments.Where is God At Times Like These? A meditation in the wake of a violent atrocity [Prayer Ping]
Posted on 12/14/2012 10:01:32 PM PST by Salvation
One of the great mysteries to to believer and non-believer alike is the mystery of evil and suffering. If there is a God who is omnipotent and omniscient how can he tolerate evil, injustice, and suffering of the innocent? Where was God yesterday when the shootings in Connecticut occurred? Where is God when a young girl is raped, when genocide is committed, when evil men hatch their plots? Why Did God even conceive the evil ones, and let them be born?
The problem of evil cannot be simply answered. It is a mystery. Its purpose and why God permits it are caught up in our limited vision and understanding. The scriptures say how all things work together for the good of those who love and trust the Lord and are called according to his purposes. But how this is so is difficult for us to see in many circumstances.
Anyone who have ever suffered tragic and senseless loss or observed the disproportionate suffering that some must endure cannot help but ask, why? And the answers arent all that satisfying to many for suffering is ultimately mysterious in many ways.
I have some respect for those who struggle to believe in the wake of tragedy. I do not share their struggle but I understand and respect its depths and the dignity of the question. At the end of the trail of questions, often asked in anguish, is God who has not chosen to supply simple answers. Perhaps if he were our simple minds could not comprehend them anyway. We are left simply to decide, often in the face of great evil and puzzling suffering, that God exists or not.
As in the days of Job, we cry out for answers but little is forthcoming. In the Book of Job, God speaks from a whirlwind and He questions Jobs ability to even ask the right questions, let alone venture and answer to the problem and presence of evil and suffering. If He were to explain, it seems all that we would hear would be thunder. In the end he is God and we are not. This must be enough and we must look to the reward that awaits the faithful with trust.
Perhaps the most perplexing aspect of suffering is its uneven distribution. In America we suffer little in comparison to many other parts of the world. Further, even here, some skate through life strong and sleek, wealthy and well fed. Others endure suffering, crippling disease, inexplicable and sudden losses, financial setbacks, and burdens.
It is a true fact that a lot of our suffering comes from bad choices, substance abuse and lack of self-control. But some suffering seems unrelated to any of this.
And the most difficult suffering to accept is that caused on the innocent by third parties who seem to suffer no penalty. Parents who mistreat or neglect their children, the poor who are exploited and used, caught in schemes others have made, perhaps it is corrupt governments, perhaps unscrupulous industries, or crazed killers.
Suffering is hard to explain or accept simply. I think this just has to be admitted. Simple slogans and quick answers are seldom sufficient in the face of great evil and suffering. Perhaps when interacting with an atheist of this third kind, sympathy, understanding and a call to humility goes farther than forceful rebuttal.
A respectful exposition of the Christian understanding of evil might include some of the following points. Note, these are not explanations per se (for suffering is a great mystery) and they are humble for they admit of their own limits.
To these points I am sure you will add. But be careful with the problem of evil and suffering. It has mysterious dimensions which must be respected. Simple answers may not help those who struggle with the problem of suffering and evil. Understanding and an exposition that shows forth the Christian struggle to come to grips with this may be the best way. The answer of scripture requires faith but the answer appeals to reason, and calls us to humility before a great mystery of which we see only a little. The appeal to humility before a mystery may command greater respect from an atheist of this sort than pat answers which may tend to alienate.
"When Bad Things Happen to Good People"
The libs threw God out of the school and wouldn’t “buzz” him back in.
Prayers for all the parents as for the repose of the souls of those who were killed.
We must also pray for the person who perpetrated this crime. God have mercy on him.
Prayers for all the parents as well as for the repose of the souls of those who were killed.
I hate to say it, but when my atheist brother brings up arguments using examples like this, it’s very difficult to counter with just a “in God we trust.” Thanks for the article.
Another great book — now out of print, however. It helped me a lot as I watch five family members die within a period of five years.
“Without Thorns It’s Not a Rose” by Father Jack Scott
Ask the atheist how he/she would have prevented it?
The fact that they even want to talk about it shows, to me, that they have a belief in God. Call them on it.
I never find it necessary to blame God for the evil that men do. Where is God? He is always right there offering comfort and peace.
That would be the same “God” that supposedly made the lunitic and then set him apon those children?
Mental illness indeed.
|Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.||
I believe that every one of those children murdered today are in heaven.
One has to wonder though... had they been protected from this tragedy, how many of them would have come to a saving relationship with Jesus once they passed out of their age of innocence?
When we allow our educators to shun and reject God from our schools, what would we expect to happen as a result?
The atheists will surely look at this and say “see? where is your God in situations such as these?” To which I would respond “I don’t know... but maybe if God were allowed in school, they would still be alive.”
I would also have this observation to make...
As a result of God allowing this to happen, how many parents will finally wake up and remove their children from a public school system which indoctrinates our children in the ways of the world and teaches them to hate God?
I wonder how many lives these children’s death will actually save in the long run?
I wonder how many people will curse God in response to this, and how many people will turn to Him?
The greatest suffering this earth will see is still yet to come. Do you want to be around for it?
Jesus has a great escape plan.
**As a result of God allowing this to happen, how many parents will finally wake up and remove their children from a public school system which indoctrinates our children in the ways of the world and teaches them to hate God?
I wonder how many lives these childrens death will actually save in the long run?**
Ditto to that!
I’m not Christian, Jew, or atheist. I have no “home”, but I seek answers just like most people. Just the other night a friend and I were discussing the existence of God and the presence of evil and great suffering. In doing so, I remembered that Dennis Prager has often talked on this subject and found this “hour” from his program from 2007. Prager mentions Job just like the author here. Thank you, Salvation, for posting this. I don’t know what else to say. Words are so feeble at times like this.
Prager God , Evil and suffering 1 of 4 Apologetics
Prager : God , Evil & Suffering 2 of 4 Apologetics
Prager : God , Evil & Suffering 3 of 4 Apologetics
Prager : God , Evil & Suffering 4 of 4 Apologetics
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REDEMPTIVE SUFFERING(Catholic Caucus or by Invitation Only)
I fled Him, down the nights and down the days; I fled Him, down the arches of the years; I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears I hid from Him, and under running laughter. Up vistaed hopes I sped; And shot, precipitated, Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears, From those strong Feet that followed, followed after. But with unhurrying chase, And unperturbèd pace, Deliberate speed, majestic instancy, They beat--and a Voice beat More instant than the Feet-- "All things betray thee, who betrayest Me." I pleaded, outlaw-wise, By many a hearted casement, curtained red, Trellised with intertwining charities (For, though I knew His love Who followed, Yet was I sore adread Lest having Him, I must have naught beside); But if one little casement parted wide, The gust of His approach would clash it to. Fear wist not to evade, as Love wist to pursue. Across the margent of the world I fled, And troubled the gold gateways of the stars, Smiting for shelter on their clanged bars; Fretted to dulcet jars And silvern chatter the pale ports o' the moon. I said to dawn, Be sudden; to eve, Be soon; With thy young skyey blossoms heap me over From this tremendous Lover! Float thy vague veil about me, lest He see! I tempted all His servitors, but to find My own betrayal in their constancy, In faith to Him their fickleness to me, Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit. To all swift things for swiftness did I sue; Clung to the whistling mane of every wind. But whether they swept, smoothly fleet, The long savannahs of the blue; Or whether, Thunder-driven, They clanged his chariot 'thwart a heaven Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn o' their feet-- Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue. Still with unhurrying chase, And unperturbèd pace, Deliberate speed, majestic instancy, Came on the following Feet, And a Voice above their beat-- "Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me." I sought no more that after which I strayed In face of man or maid; But still within the little children's eyes Seems something, something that replies; They at least are for me, surely for me! I turned me to them very wistfully; But, just as their young eyes grew sudden fair With dawning answers there, Their angel plucked them from me by the hair. "Come then, ye other children, Nature's--share With me," said I, "your delicate fellowship; Let me greet you lip to lip, Let me twine with you caresses, Wantoning With our Lady-Mother's vagrant tresses' Banqueting With her in her wind-walled palace, Underneath her azured daïs, Quaffing, as your taintless way is, From a chalice Lucent-weeping out of the dayspring." So it was done; I in their delicate fellowship was one-- Drew the bolt of Nature's secrecies. I knew all the swift importings On the wilful face of skies; I knew how the clouds arise Spumèd of the wild sea-snortings; All that's born or dies Rose and drooped with--made them shapers Of mine own moods, or wailful or divine-- With them joyed and was bereaven. I was heavy with the even, When she lit her glimmering tapers Round the day's dead sanctities. I laughed in the morning's eyes. I triumphed and I saddened with all weather, Heaven and I wept together, And its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine; Against the red throb of its sunset-heart I laid my own to beat, And share commingling heat; But not by that, by that, was eased my human smart. In vain my tears were wet on Heaven's gray cheek. For ah! we know not what each other says, These things and I; in sound I speak-- Their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences. Nature, poor stepdame, cannot slake my drouth; Let her, if she would owe me, Drop yon blue bosom-veil of sky, and show me The breasts of her tenderness; Never did any milk of hers once bless My thirsting mouth. Nigh and nigh draws the chase, With unperturbèd pace, Deliberate speed, majestic instancy; And past those noisèd Feet A voice comes yet more fleet-- "Lo naught contents thee, who content'st not Me." Naked I wait Thy love's uplifted stroke! My harness piece by piece Thou hast hewn from me, And smitten me to my knee; I am defenseless utterly. I slept, methinks, and woke, And, slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep. In the rash lustihead of my young powers, I shook the pillaring hours And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears, I stand amid the dust o' the mounded years-- My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap. My days have crackled and gone up in smoke, Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream. Yea, faileth now even dream The dreamer, and the lute the lutanist; Even the linked fantasies, in whose blossomy twist I swung the earth a trinket at my wrist, Are yielding; cords of all too weak account For earth with heavy griefs so overplussed. Ah! is Thy love indeed A weed, albeit amaranthine weed, Suffering no flowers except its own to mount? Ah! must-- Designer infinite!-- Ah! must Thou char the wood ere Thou canst limn with it? My freshness spent its wavering shower i' the dust; And now my heart is a broken fount, Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever From the dank thoughts that shiver Upon the sighful branches of my mind. Such is; what is to be? The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind? I dimly guess what Time in mist confounds; Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds From the hid battlements of Eternity; Those shaken mists a space unsettle, then Round the half-glimpsed turrets slowly wash again. But not ere him who summoneth I first have seen, enwound With blooming robes, purpureal, cypress-crowned; His name I know, and what his trumpet saith. Whether man's heart or life it be which yields Thee harvest, must Thy harvest fields Be dunged with rotten death? Now of that long pursuit Comes on at hand the bruit; That Voice is round me like a bursting sea: "And is thy earth so marred, Shattered in shard on shard? Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me! Strange, piteous, futile thing, Wherefore should any set thee love apart? Seeing none but I makes much of naught," He said, "And human love needs human meriting, How hast thou merited-- Of all man's clotted clay rhe dingiest clot? Alack, thou knowest not How little worthy of any love thou art! Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee Save Me, save only Me? All which I took from thee I did but take, Not for thy harms. But just that thou might'st seek it in my arms. All which thy child's mistake Fancies as lost, I have stored for the at home; Rise, clasp My hand, and come!" Halts by me that footfall; Is my gloom, after all, Shade of His hand, outstreched caressingly? "Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest, I am He Whom thou seekest! Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me."
Francis Thompson (1859-1907)
you are the best... Merry Christmas to all amdg