Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Living with Lewis: A Good God

For most of my life, I’ve struggled with the question of whether I truly believe that God is good. There’s always that question in the back of my mind, the voice that asks, “Then why so much suffering?” If God is truly good, then how could he let such things happen? To me? To others? To the already struggling in Port-au-Prince? To the already broken who are hit again and again when they’re already down. I cannot fully understand this. But I’m beginning to discover a few things I haven’t considered before, things that I’ll probably be wrestling with a while, but things that bring some progress, I think.
First came the realization that my definition of good might be faulty.
Lewis writes in A Grief Observed:
“The terrible thing is that a perfectly good God is in this matter hardly less formidable than a Cosmic Sadist. The more we believe that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is any use in begging for tenderness. A cruel man might be bribed- might grow tired of his vile sport- might have a temporary fit of mercy, as alcoholics have fits of sobriety. But supposed that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorable he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operations was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless…What do people mean when they say, ‘I am not afraid of God because I know He is good’? Have they never been to a dentist?” (60-61)
What if good means that the suffering is necessary?

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