For years, I was an atheist, unwilling to believe in or do homage to a God who would allow suffering by the innocent.
My view was a direct result of the abuse I had endured, and the suffering of all kinds I saw around me. I could not reconcile a good and just God with the many injustices in the world. Faith was a fool’s game.
The Bible’s Book of Job, in particular, revealed the merciless nature of God. So I thought. A devout man is caused to lose his property, his children, and his health. All to demonstrate that his faith in God is not a response to good fortune alone.
I saw the God who would allow this as sadistic. I viewed the Book of Job as an obscenity, and rejected the propositions it put forward. For a long while, I preferred to rage.
When I found the law as a profession, it felt as if a sword had been placed into my hand.
But the Book of Job is a profound study in suffering. It makes the point that God is God. We are merely His creation, dearly though He loves us.
In the end, I came to recognize that we cannot substitute our sense of justice for God’s. We do not have His perspective. We cannot see the end from the beginning.
Christians do not always know why suffering takes place. Ours is a broken world, not the paradise we might wish.
Christians do, however, know the true character of God. He truly is holy, good, just, and merciful. He and only He is the God who suffered as we suffer, even dying for our sakes. Amid the severest of trials, He somehow sustains us. And we have His promise that He will use all things somehow for good.
That promise cannot be applied simplistically. No Christian would contend that good can come to a child from sexual molestation, torture, or neglect.
But a surprising number of us abused in childhood have survived our pain, and recovered sufficiently to reach out to others. On its face, that may seem impossible. That it takes place at all is a perfect illustration of God’s grace.
Too many children carry lifelong scars of their abuse. Too many die along the way. We must do everything in our power to prevent and remedy that.
But for those whose lives are ended too soon, there is no more pain or sorrow, only an eternity of joy. For them and all the rest of us, there will at the Final Judgment be justice.
These days, I read the Book of Job for comfort and assurance. Like Job, I have known the valley of the shadow. But like him, let me say:
“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13: 15).
You see, I now take some things on faith.
A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL OF YOU!
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