Sayonara, or Welcome home?
If you’re a believer like me, you probably know there are folks out there who think you’re nuts. They can’t understand how any reasonably intelligent human being can look at all the pain and suffering in the world and believe that an all-powerful, good God exists. They don’t have a good answer for how anything exists if he doesn’t, but they can’t reconcile an imperfect, unfair world with a perfect and just God. And frankly…I don’t blame them.
But because I can’t reconcile God’s revelation of himself in creation, his Word, and in hearts and minds that are capable of extending love and kindness to others, with the notion that there is no god, I am compelled to believe there must be a way to reconcile the presence of suffering. Though because we are dealing with an infinitely intelligent Being that is beyond our complete comprehension, a totally satisfactory understanding will elude us, I believe there is enough truth that we can ascertain from the evidence to quiet our disturbed souls.
Exhibit A: Plenty of people could not enjoy Christmas Day at home with their families because their presence was required at their place of employment. Hospitals, fire stations, media outlets, all have to be manned 24-7-365. At face value this seems unfair for them to have to suffer the loss of once-yearly merriment that their coworkers get to enjoy. Until you look at their paycheck. They are compensated, many generously, for the inconvenience they endured having to work an important holiday. In the same way, in order to reconcile suffering with a good God, we need to look at the big picture. And I do mean BIG. Because as enormous as the visible world is and as complex and immeasurable the unseen and immaterial realities of our universe, they are incomplete as a summation of all that is. Suffering cannot be understood apart from the reality that there is life after death, when all things will be made right. A good and loving God who welcomes the souls of murdered children to his side to enjoy the bliss of Heaven forever, with eternal rewards they would not otherwise have been blessed with, can be reconciled with the apparent injustice of an unrestrained mass murderer.
Now, you may choose to believe this life is it. Close the casket; six-feet under; Sayonara; end of story. But then you’ve got other problems to reconcile. Like the evidence for Jesus Christ’s resurrection, and his promises, as God, that believers will be with him in Paradise. Like the nagging sense that your thoughts and feelings, the love you have for your family, the way your mind can dream and imagine untethered by cold, earthbound facts, are realities unconstrained and uncontrolled by your physical body, and live on after the body is dead.
Eternity is a concept that unbelievers are largely unwilling to accept, unless it could be shown that the universe is eternal and, hence, does not require a cause. But if time came into existence along with space and matter, and cannot exist without them, it is reasonable to conclude that there is a dimension outside of time that is unbound by it.
The best understanding of pain and suffering begins with a good God and a real place called Heaven where there will be none. Ever.
More exhibits to come. This is enough for one day.