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Theodicy – An Internal Struggle

I hate this.  I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate this.

I have a child, someone I brought into this world, lying in a grave.

I hate it.

I love God.  I love, love, love, love, love, love, love Him.  Always have.  Always will.

It has been my heart’s desire for most of my adult life to live as Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “not my will, but Thine be done”.

How do I reconcile these two intense things?  This has been one of my internal struggles since my son died.

Is it okay to passionately hate something God has allowed in my life when I so deeply love and want to be pleasing to God?

The ridiculous analogy that comes to mind is my husband and I’s relationship.  That’s not ridiculous – I deeply, and with all my being, love my husband.  But this is ridiculous – I detest his snoring!  Up until he decided to do something about it, I considered it grounds for divorce!  Just kidding.  But I did absolutely hate it, while deeply loving him.

I absolutely hate this loss, while deeply loving God.  It has been a struggle to reconcile this in my mind.  In fact, I can’t reconcile it.  It doesn’t go together.   It won’t fit.  It doesn’t fit with my understanding of life; it doesn’t fit into my theology; it doesn’t fit with the rest of how my life had been up until my son died.  It doesn’t fit.  I can’t reconcile it.

It begs the question, in my mind, “How can a good and loving God allow such “bad” and hurtful things to happen?”  I learned, shortly after my son passed away, that this is called “theodicy”.

The on-line definition is: “the vindication of divine goodness and providence in view of the existence of evil”.  Webster’s says: “a system of natural theology aimed at seeking to vindicate divine justice in allowing evil to exist”.

Does this confuse anyone besides me?  Maybe it’s the place I’m in – grieving the loss of a 25 yr. old son.  Maybe it’s one of those concepts we have to accept on faith.  Maybe I just can’t wrap my head around it right now.

It puts me in mind of this verse in scripture: “…..Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?”  Job 2:10

Shall we, indeed?

Am I willing to accept all the wonderful things in my life as gifts from God, blessings, in fact?

But less willing to accept hardship, adversity and trials as from the hand of God?

Theodicy (sounds like “The Odyssey”).  Wrestling with the question, “How can a good and loving God allow such atrocities in our world?”

How can He?  The simple answer is, because He is God.

But if you’ve spent any amount of time getting to know God through His Word, you know that is not even close to the entire answer.  The answer is much more complex and too divine for my earthly (ie: created by God) brain to truly understand.

I have, though, had to spend some time, decades in fact, wrestling this theodicy thing down and trying to get some degree of peace and acceptance, if not understanding.

I did not know I was wrestling with a doctrine that had a specific name until my son passed away.  I have always thought I was grappling with the concept of the sovereignty of God, not knowing it was called theodicy.

My girlfriend and I have had many conversations, over the three decades we’ve been friends, about the sovereignty of God as we raised children, sought God, attended churches, watched as a member of our church fought, and lost, a battle with cancer, as a young girl, a friend of our daughters, fought for, and lost, her life after a 4-wheeler accident, as we watched our children grow and search for their places in the world, making some decisions we hoped they wouldn’t, as our parents aged, one of them losing a battle with Parkinson’s, and so much more as we lived and shared life together.

We had to decide what we believe and why we believe it.

And we had to decide if we will continue believing it.

Life and especially death makes us examine these things and make decisions, whether we are aware we are doing that or not, about life and how we will live it.

Do I have an answer about theodicy?  About the sovereignty of God?  About life and death here on earth?

Absolutely not.

I’m still wrestling.

I’m also still believing and trusting in God.

I know He is good.

I know He is love.

I also know that “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:38-39

Keep seeking Him.  We may not have the answers, but He does, and He loves us.

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