I’ve been reading a lot this week as people complain that either God is hateful and evil or they are victims of gross unfairness at the hands of God’s servants (that God, of course, should have fixed or should fix now). Much of it is in the context of doctrinal and historical discussions that bring up a lot of pain.
It is tempting to apply the discussion to every template: gay marriage, ordination of women, Blacks and the Priesthood, and the death of children — especially the last as it is Father’s Day.
In every case, what appears to be different or unfair treatment by God or his Church is interpreted to mean that either God is unfair because he acts in ways that give us each different trials or God is unfair because the Church doesn’t solve (and apologize) for the problem.
Esau had that lament about the birthright, Cain had that complaint about Abel and how God respected him. It isn’t as if pain or complaints are anything new. But pain leads to binary thinking and binary outlooks: either God is evil because we have different trials and blessings or there is something wrong because his prophets must have made mistakes.
From my experience I reject binary thinking and insist that there has to be a third way.
God is not evil because we have different paths through life nor does God send the Church astray when that happens. Aaron and his sons sharing the priesthood with only the Levites was not evil and was not proof that God had quit talking to Moses.
After all, I’ve buried three children and lost three more to miscarriages. My youngest has Tourette syndrome. Does the fact that God was so hard on my wife mean that God is evil? Is the fact that the Church has not apologized to me for what happened mean that the prophets are balking and fallen?
Should I blame God for the terrible sense of loss and failure that has accompanied many, many Father’s Days? The overwhelming sense of failure and doom in not being able to save the lives of my three daughters?
If it is possible to resolve my life, and it is, as God tells me to be patient and to trust his love, then what of the pain of others? I know from evidence based medicine and studies that facing my own death will not cause me as much trauma as burying a child did. Without being melodramatic, I know that those who have buried children have suffered as much as is humanly possible.
Not that I am not moved to tears at the pain of others. I’m left with sorrow for them. But I remain certain that there are third alternatives, a third way, that pain and sorrow can blind us to. It just hurts to much some times for us to remember that Christ has offered to let us come unto him and have our sorrows made whole, to mourn with us and to heal the broken hearted. For though it is simple, it is not easy.
Affliction, no matter what the form, does not require that God be evil or that there is no truth. I know, I’ve addressed affliction before. I know, Paul was not understating when he said that no affliction for the present time was joyous.
But no one finds healing by underestimating the love and grace of God. Is it hard? It is too hard. That, of course, is mortal life. But it is possible to find the third way, because while with man it is impossible, with God all things are possible.
Even finding peace on Father’s Day. Perhaps this year.
Note, on Tuesday I will have “God is a What? Part One” which follows up on some of the threads here, and I’ve already posted a related post on my personal blog on the scripture that says: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD