Saturday, June 9, 2012

2012.06.08 Where is God?

A friend recently sent me an email with the subject line: Where is God? Help me on this one please.  She then gave details of a friend who was drowning in pain over multiple and what seemed to her serial losses—all tragic and all related to alcohol dependency. 

I wanted to preach 12-step recovery wisdom; instead I went for Christian wisdom and wrote.......

You of course are asking the $64-billion question theology has wrestled with for all time. It's called theodicy.  Where is God in these situations? Why do the innocent suffer? I tend to ask people what God they are wondering about. Usually it is the deity they expect to intervene for the good and to save.  But few consider what salvation means beyond mere rescue.

We pray for a rescuer and often we get a lover, a God who accompanies us, strengthens us from within, loves us in the midst of all kinds of tragedies but does not FIX it.  It seems unfair I know but think about the fact that if God fixed everything for us we would never grow up and we would never access the enormous capacity God gave us to love one another, just as you are doing for your sweet friend.

With such a God we might feel cozy or spoiled but would be dependent and not free. (Think Alanon.) YOU are the presence of God to her as you listen, advise when you can, and mostly just be present gently until she grieves and begins to heal.  (A good book on this question is Rabbi Kushner's "When Bad Things Happen to Good People." )

God to me is a compassionate presence not a judge, a cosmic controller, or a rescuer—except through us.  My nephew for example has been rescued many many time by the Salvation Army. The rest of his salvation is  transformation and it's is up to him and God.

If God were to prevent or eliminate evil & suffering She would have done it for Jesus at the very least.  Jesus spread good and healing around but he didn't heal everyone and God didn't stop the crucifixion but simply acted to restore Life in the Spirit forever, which Christians call resurrection. 

God limits God's own powers for the sake of love—and for the sake of our freedom, including nature's. 

Theologian William Pocher Dubose said something I remember: "God's will waits upon our willingness."

Demond Tutu, retired Anglican Archbishop of So. Africa said, "God without us will not, and we without God cannot ." Yup! Relationship/partnership/cocreatorship— not control is the way this kingdom is run.

I believe that God created us imperfect AND perfectly driven to yearn, strive, struggle, and question life as it comes. It's just that way. The amazing grace, when we can be aware, is that we recognize serenity in patches—patches so colorful and enchanting (and often nuts)  that they remain embroidered on our souls forever and help us go on, no matter what.

Be the amazing grace, and I send you grit and prayers, and hope,


P.S.  It's  OK too to rant and get mad at God who will listen, not condemn, and let you work through your powerlessness…. and God's as well :)