Why does God allow suffering? If he is all powerful and good, why do grief and hopelessness run so freely upon the earth? Why does God not end the cycles of abuse, violence, hatred, and evil that wreak havoc in this world? These questions reflect the theological mystery called theodicy. The question of theodicy is this, “If God is sovereign and good why does he allow suffering?” The problem of theodicy often leads Christians to get stuck and disillusioned in their faith. Yet, all through the history of the Church, Christians have always faced suffering and persecution… especially when it was undeserved. So, regardless our lot, we must understand that we are not alone in this struggle. Nevertheless, it still can be hard to trust God when such questions and disillusionment lurk in the recesses of our minds.
How about you? Do you want to move forward in faith yet feel reluctant because memories of past pain and bitter grief are still so raw? Do you want to trust God but find it difficult to place faith in one whose ways do not often make sense? Perhaps, most difficult of all is that in the face of such questions our prayers to God appear to fall on deaf ears. Why is it that when our faith seems to need answers most, God responds with silence? Despite such important questions and the real challenges they pose, it is critical that in such seasons of silence, we do not respond in silence to God. We must not shut our mouths and hearts to prayer because it is on the other side of this battle that we discover the anchor of hope.
Somehow in our refusal to let silence be our response; in choosing to keep praying when it feels fruitless, in choosing to seek him when he seems hidden, eventually God meets us… sometimes suddenly, sometimes gradually. He promises that those who seek him with all their hearts finally find him (Jeremiah 29:13). From beginning to end, the Bible is clear about two attributes of God—sovereignty and love. In other words, nothing is beyond his control and he is the absolute perfection of goodness. So if we are to resist the temptation of settling for a passive and silent faith in the face of unanswered questions and confusing circumstances, we must daily remind ourselves of the nature of this God we serve. Despite our dark nights and questions of theodicy, we will find assurance in his sovereignty and love if we trust him long enough. Regardless the silence, we must choose to pray and persevere in hope.
So, we just believe… we simply take a blind leap in the dark and hope for the best? Is this what we are left with? Yes and no. Yes because we must choose to believe even when it makes no sense, even when everything in us screams to give up on faith. But, also no because our belief is not rootless. We are not leaping into uncertain nonsense but jumping into hope. Next week we’ll continue to explore the basis of Christian hope.
What Do You Think?
Has theodicy challenged your faith? What are some practical ways you can trust God despite your lingering questions?