Sunday, 2 November 2008

I believe

Someone on one of the boards I spend far too much time reading visit asked
"I'm just wondering how you reconcile your faith with your childs disabilities? ... I'd love to take solace from religion but find it so hard to reconcile [my child]'s suffering and the adverse effect it has had on us all as a family, with the thought of a caring God. "

I replied there, but thought I'd post it here too - I know some of you reading have different views and I'd be interested to hear all of them.

Forgive my faulty theology, but this is what I believe.

God loves us, and he gives us, all of us, free will. He does not step in to prevent the consequences of free will - if he did, then it wouldn't truly be free will. We therefore have the choice to do the right thing or a myriad of wrong things. I have the choice to hit my child or not to hit my child, to drive at 29 miles an hour or at 129 miles an hour, to drink myself into oblivion or to remain reasonably sober.

If I hit my child, and hit my child hard and repeatedly, that child is going to become damaged - if I throw my child against a wall, that child is going to be damaged, and if I constantly hit that child with harsh words, that child is going to be damaged. That damage will not be caused by God, but directly caused by me and I will have to answer for that one day.

If I drive at 129 miles an hour past a school, and a small child runs out, and I knock them down, that child will be dead or disabled again directly as a result of my actions, it will be my fault.

And if I drink myself into oblivion and fail to notice my child choking on a peanut in the next room, I will be responsible for that.

What has God to do with that? Well, He gave me free will in the first place, so I suppose we could blame Him for that. But if He takes away that free will, he also takes away my ability to choose the right thing. By preventing me from doing the wrong thing, I do not choose to do the right thing, I am forced to do it. And I don't think God wants slaves, robots, automatons. He wants people to choose to love Him and live His ways. Perhaps He was wrong there - but I know I'd rather live in a world which has everyone here in it rather than a world of Stepford Wives.

So, for disabilities which occur as a result of other people's actions, I don't see that as incompatible with a loving God at all.

I don't understand congenital disabilities. I don't understand why children can be born with some kind of faulty off switch causing them to fail and flounder and suffer and fade away and then die whether slowly and painfully or within minutes of birth. I don't understand why cancer. And I certainly don't understand why my daughter was boiled to death.

I'm sure some of it can be explained by the choices we make and the choices generations past made - toxic chemicals in the environment, radiation, and all the rest of it. But that doesn't explain all of it.

I just cling to the fact that we live in a broken, imperfect world. Whether you take Adam and Eve as fact or allegory, I believe our actions globally have caused this global imperfection. I believe that we collectively are to blame, not specific individuals and not God.

I definitely do not believe that God causes children to become disabled. I absolutely reject the idea that disability in a child is a punishment for the parent. And I am completely, one hundred percent certain, that for every tear I shed over my children, Jesus is right there weeping alongside me.

I don't always feel terribly close to God. I'm certainly not always happy with the things going on in my life and in the lives of those around me. I can't understand why God allows truly dreadful things to happen.

But - I trust God. I love God. I have a relationship with a loving Creator; He made me just as I am (although there's quite a bit of work to do; I'm a long way off perfect!), and He made my girls too.

Psalm 130 sums things up for me -
1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.

2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.

5 You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, [a] you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

God knew me and loved me before I was born. He knows my past (and forgives it), He knows my present, and He knows my future. He knows how many days my life holds and he knows how many days there are left for my girls too. He has a plan, and I am part of it.

I don't understand it, I can't understand it. But God can and does. And so all I have to do is trust in God. All I have to do is concentrate on what's happening today, now, this minute.

When I celebrate, I'm sure God is smiling too. And I know that God weeps at the tragedy in life - I know this because I've heard Him.

When the worst comes, all I can do is hold onto God. There's a song, my current favourite, by Matt Redman.

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

It's a choice, ultimately. Even when I don't feel particularly close to God I choose to trust in Him. I choose to accept His plan for my life, His wisdom over my own foolishness. And every time, every time, I choose God instead of me then that relationship grows and strengthens.



Anonymous said...

Amen! I couldn't have said it better. I also love that song. It alswys brings the tears.

Alesha said...

Extremely well said.


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