Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hurts me soul.

I wrestle with a thought every now and then.

In social psychology, there is a term called "Just world belief". Simply put, good things will happen to good people and bad things will happen to bad people. It describes a certain perspective some people have when it comes to misfortune.

But, we, as Christians, know that the "Just world belief" is foolish and definitely false. Bad things happen to good people all the time. The wicked continue to prosper and enjoy their gluttonous lifestyles. Missionaries live in harsh conditions, while still remaining faithful to the God they so desperately want to share with the natives. Christians around the world are persecuted and subject to torture; meanwhile men who shamelessly commit horrible deeds relax and indulge in their spoils of wrongdoing.

I struggle with the thought of good people suffering. It's an age-old argument to the existence of God. How does a loving God allow His people to suffer? Why do women and children in Africa continue to die? What kind of God allows the world to continue along in its downward spiral?

I'm sure most people are familiar with the story of Job. A faithful man of God is stripped of all his wonderful treasures, family, and property. But all due to what? A test? Sometimes I wonder. Are Christians satisfied with the answer to suffering being a test of faith? We say we suffer because God wants to teach us or test us. Sometimes, we get pulled in different ways and truly come out a "better" person. Other times, we just don't see it but tell ourselves through gritted teeth that we just need to have more faith and sometimes God works in "mysterious" ways.

I wonder if people are truly comforted by the things we conjure up in our minds to justify suffering. We strive to understand God and delve deeper into Scripture to uncover truths that should comfort us. Instead of becoming more enlightened, often times we're inherently and unconsciously selfish and create our own truths with "Scriptural" backing. This is where I see all sorts of debates over controversial topics and different interpretations. We believe that OUR interpretation of Scripture is absolute. We say the Trinity exists because there are verses where God refers to Himself as "we". They say the Trinity doesn't even make sense. There is no mention of Trinity in Scripture. Then we create different sects and cults and ultimately confuse the whole world because an Absolute Truth has been torn into variations of the "Truth" that every group insists is the whole.

Gestalt Psychology says that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. I think it's our responsibility to be well read in Scripture and know God's Word. I think the deeper knowledge we have, the more advantageous it is when it comes to evangelism or discussion. However, I believe that we are a mere cup that can only hold so much water, although there is a pitcher full of water. Seeking to fully understand God to a point where we could actually be rewriting His Truth to conveniently fit into our worldview that reigns supreme? That's just wrong.

Maybe I won't ever understand why people suffer. There are hundreds of books and verses that seek to comfort those who struggle with the same thing. And I will find comfort. I will have faith. But I won't know all.