Friday, 8 February 2013

A suffering God.

Hi guys. God's sovereignty is a tricky concept. I do not fully understand it. A professor once asked: If God is omni-powerful and orders all creation, can God be vulnerable to that creation? Can God be in control of anything at all without constantly controlling everything? (John Sanders).

In a cell group context, I can give a hundred and one reasons why there's suffering in this world in defence of an all-loving, all-powerful and all-knowing Creator. But I can't wholeheartedly give even one to a person who is innocently suffering with no apparent reprieve in sight. Just being dead honest.

Victor Frankl, a survivor of the Holocaust, once said that "if there is meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life even as fate and death. Without suffering and death, human life cannot be complete."

The "meaning in suffering" is sometimes a deeply inaccessible concept to me. Take Anna Seddig for example. During WWII, she was carrying her one year old son and they had nothing to eat. She was also pregnant. Still, she had to breastfeed her son. For water, she had to let snow melt in her mouth. Then, as they were hiding, a group of Red Army Russians soldiers found her and told her they have a place for her and her son to stay.

She followed them into an air-raid shelter. There was a table in it. That night, one Russian after another took their turn with her on that table. She described her body as "gripped with cramps." In her own words, she said, "You feel repulsion. I can't express it any other way...I can't tell how many men there were - ten, fifteen? One of them, I remember, also wanted me, but then he said, "How many comrades have already been here? Put your clothes on!"

It is said that sometimes it rains on evil men. Sometimes it rains on the righteous. Sometimes it rains on both. I guess on that tragic night, Anna must have felt the whole storm of evil raining down on her.

So, God's sovereignty is the OB markers for my faith. Proverbs reads, "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand." And it continues, "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord." One author wrote, "God moves in mysterious way. His wonders to perform. He plants His footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm...Blind unbelief is sure to err and scan His work in vain. God is His own interpreter and He will make it plain."

I guess the last part makes some sense to me. And I stress “some”. God interprets all in His own signature style, in His own language of profound love and overriding majesty. Who am I to translate the tragedies of our times to the Creator who had, in His sovereign will, "allowed" such tragedies to happen? I know neither the language nor the tools to transcribe the dark, perplexing events of history to the history maker Himself. So what is plain to Him is sometimes lame to me.

Let me end with the words of John Piper. He wrote, " of the foundation of oppression is creature-ism, which is judging the Creator by the standard of the creature. Creature-ism has several applications: (1) me-ism - judging others by the standard of myself; (2) cultural imperialism - judging other cultures by the standard of my culture; (3) sexism - judging the other gender by the standard of my gender; (4) racism - judging the other races by the standard of my race; (5) ethno-centrism - judging other people groups by the standard of my people group."

I guess when it comes to a personal understanding of why things happen the way they happen under God’s watch, I plead the "fifth amendment", that is, the right to remain silent and not self-incriminate, or in this case, self-obfuscate. Of course, with the exception that I will be called to defend my faith (a biblical mandate no doubt), the balance of my time would be to submit to a plea of theological agnosticism.  

And if it is for any reason and for any reason at all, it will be this: To know the mind of God, to embody his omnipresence, and then to hear in every corner of this fallen world the screams and wails of sufferers on a blow-by-blow account, repeatedly abused and tormented even as I am writing this, is honestly something that my feeble heart, my troubled mind and my wretched soul would not be able to take, even for a second of it; imagine an eternity.

In all that, in all the tragedies accumulated since the fall of humanity, the cries and the shrieks of pain indescribable, I guess only someone in His shoe would be sovereignly able to take it all in and bear it all full. Because, in the end, there is no greater sufferer than the Sufferer who suffers together with all His sufferers. Cheers out.

No comments:

Post a Comment