These are such disorienting times that a devout Christian might be excused for doubting the Good News in the wake the god-awful news of madness and mayhem in “the real world.”
If Jesus ushered in the Kingdom of God on earth and gave us a foretaste of the heavenly kingdom yet to come, one might be forgiven for thinking that Heaven must be over-rated.
One might be forgiven for wondering with the atheist what’s so loving and good about a God who allows so much suffering.
But we have the bible, which quotes many a believer who shakes a fist in anger and doubt at a God who seems to have given up and gone into some kind of cosmic retreat from us all.
Doubt is OK. Doubt is good. It’s a far better thing to live in the tension between certainty and doubt than to live in such certainty that you slaughter people in the name of whatever God you’ve created in your mind.
The eternal God to whom we sometimes doubting Christians remain faithful is the God who never promised that this living, breathing world would be safe and secure. The Son of God himself reminded us that we would have severe trials and tribulations on this side of the heavenly realm.
But the Son of God himself incarnated the God who is with us in our suffering. That’s always been the divine promise, that God is ever so close to us as to suffer what we suffer.
In his terrifying but powerful little book Night, Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel offers up this response to the age-old question of where God is in the midst of misery:
“Then came the march past the victims. The two men were no longer alive. Their tongues were hanging out, swollen and bluish. But the third rope was still moving: the child, too light, was still breathing…And so he remained for more than half an hour, lingering between life and death, writhing before our eyes.
“And we were forced to look at him at close range. He was still alive when I passed him. His tongue was still red, his eyes not yet extinguished.
“Behind me, I heard the same man asking: ‘For God’s sake, where is God?’
“And from within me, I heard a voice answer:
“‘Where He is? This is where–hanging here from this gallows…'”