My mother has a problem with religion. She has a problem with God. She was raised in a very strict denomination, by very strict parents who worshiped a very strict God. You were never sure about your salvation because you could lose it just like that. Movies were out, any games that had dice, no jewelry, pants on women, purchases on Sunday etc. etc. etc.
Her biggest issue with God is the Problem of Evil...the Problem of Pain. Theodicy. We talk about it sometimes during our twice a week phone calls.
I tell her I don’t have the answer why bad things happen..that nobody really has the answer. It has been talked about and written about and argued about for thousands of years. Perhaps, it is a mystery that we may not understand until we are “on the other side.”
This doesn't satisfy her, of course. I understand that. It didn't satisfy me during the several year stint when I was too mad at God to talk to him very much. I was mad about all those starving children and the rampant, overwhelming, seemingly unstoppable evil in the world. Except that I was convinced he COULD stop it, if he wanted to. I read many articles that looked at the question from different perspectives. I discussed it on message boards and yahoo groups. I talked it over with Keith (time and time again)
I found little dollops of salve here and there that took the sting out of the anger but I never really found an acceptable answer that explained why God allows this stuff to happen.
I read several books that helped a little.. “Why” by Adam Hamilton and Phillip Yancey’s twin volumes (written decades apart) Where is God When It Hurts and The Question That Never Goes Away.
Following are two quotes I happened upon recently. One, I found just this morning on Ann Voskamp’s FaceBook wall. The other quote, that says practically the same thing, is from Rob Bell.
No matter how we don't understand the why of suffering, we know that the God who went to the Cross, He *knows* suffering & *He suffers with us.* *We never suffer alone.* The whole suffering world rings with the comfort of it, how Your nailed scarred hands cup our faces, hold our hurting hearts & You whisper: "I know... *I know.* Me too. *Me too*." Anne Voskamp
“Our tendency in the midst of suffering is to turn on God. To get angry and bitter and shake our fist at the sky and say, "God, you don't know what it's like! You don't understand! You have no idea what I'm going through. You don't have a clue how much this hurts." The cross is God's way of taking away all of our accusations, excuses, and arguments. The cross is God taking on flesh and blood and saying, "Me too.” ― Rob Bell
I still don’t understand it but I know he saves our tears in a bottle and the Bible promises in three separate places that he will wipe all our tears from our faces.
Behold, he makes all things new.