Struggle of Life

Have you struggled with the way life is and the way it should be?

People fall into one of three philosophies of thought when struggling through this tension: Theist (We can know God), Agnostic (I’m not sure God exists or that we can know), and Atheist (We cannot know).

For the theist, the presence of evil is proof God exists; for the agnostic, evil creates a huge question in the mind; Atheists see evil as proof God does not exist.

At best, I am a theist. At worst, I am agnostic of the variety. Doubting Dawkins and Atheism’s Strength demonstrate the achilles heal of Atheism. Atheism is not a tenable option for me.

One honest atheist explains (please pardon some of the wording),

In a godless universe shit happens without rhyme nor reason. Life is predatory from the ground up. Creatures eat one another by trapping unsuspecting victims in unusual ways, launching surprise attacks out of the blue, and hunting in packs by overpowering prey with brute force and numbers. Sometimes a creature just goes wacko for no reason at all. Humans are not exempt. Sometimes the wiring in our brains goes haywire and we snap. We too are violent and we inherited this trait from our animal predecessors. We also show care and concern to our kith and kin but we can lash out in horrific ways at what we consider an uncaring world.

David Heddle remarks,

On the one hand, a very illuminating observation. On the other hand it is nothing more than yet another attempt at the proof of godlessness by the existence of evil. Axiomatic atheism is, if you will, a one-trick pony: Bad things happen, ergo no god. They also throw in “show me god exists” – a reasonable request from their perspective—but this is a negative statement rather than a positive. The only positive argument atheism has is, as Loftus puts it, shit happens. He writes:

In a universe where there is an all powerful, perfectly good, all knowing God this tragedy is not what we would expect to happen.

Here Loftus is 100% wrong. He is operating under the misguided assumption that Christianity is a religion that teaches shit never happens.

The bible teaches us to enjoy life, God’s bounty, and temporal happiness. It also promises, like a prescription medication: side effects may include pain, despair, suffering, lapses into grievous sin, weakness, apparent senselessness, persecution, misery, and physical death. Why atheists think that fallen man in a fallen world behaving exactly as the bible tells us is somehow a problem for Christianity is unfathomable. Shit happens. Loftus is correct that a godless world predicts as much. He is incorrect that a world with the god of the bible does not. Both hypotheses fit the data.

Heddle is spot on. But further, I would say that many people see God as a Ivory-Tower God, a God that is disconnected from His creation in any meaningful way.

If God were an Ivory-Tower God, then Atheists would be correct

But God is not an Ivory-Tower God but a God who can identify with our suffering.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “The joy of God has gone through the poverty of the manger and the agony of the cross; that is why it is invincible, irrefutable.” We need a suffering Savior. We need a Savior who has tasted the cup of horror we are being forced to drink.

But more to the point, as Peter Kreeft goes so far as to say, “If good and evil exist, God exists. The struggle of life is a struggle for faith, but not just faith but faith in Jesus, our Emmanuel.


Listen

24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (ESV)

If God is Good, Why is there Evil, Pain, and Suffering?

It’s the age-old question. “If God is good and all powerful, why is there pain, suffering, and evil in the world?”

All kinds of evil, pain, and suffering you go through can color the lens by which you approach this question.

Loss of job, cancer of any stripe, death itself, financial debt, watching friends or family suffer, floods, homelessness, orphans, the list can go on and on.

We do not think much about pain and suffering, until, that is, pain and suffering affects us personally.

Pain and suffering only makes us sit up and listen when it’s personal.

So when we go through a traumatic experience of any sort, we ask, “If God is good…” We think, “God can’t love me and he can’t be all powerful since he’s letting me go through this!”

There is a myriad of answers to the question of pain: God brings pain in our lives for His glory, to teach us, to mold us into someone better, to help others, among many other possible answers.

But the most important thing that we must remember when pain becomes personal:

We are not left alone in our suffering

Scripture tells us that Jesus, Who is God by the way, was tempted in everything that is common to man:

“Therefore, He (Jesus) had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.18 For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”

During a hurricane, which tree feels the full force of the storm?

The tree which never falls but stands firm until the end.

Jesus stood firm to the end–the end that is death–even the death of the cross being forsaken by the Father. He did this so that WE would never be forsaken, but fully and gloriously accepted and loved by the Father. Jesus is the one in whom we must trust because He has gone through the greatest pain and suffering anyone has ever gone through–standing firm to the end.

Jesus did this for us and in our place. To the end.

You are not left unto yourself, that is, if you trust Jesus. Trust Jesus and rest in His finished work on the cross.

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (ESV)

17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (ESV)