Following up on last week’s thoughts, the tendency (or at least temptation) to adopt a posture of resignation is very real and it’s a hindrance to a healthy outlook on things. When our focus is on accepting things more than changing things, we end up, as Boyd states, “tarnishing the character of God,” because in doing such we can mistake God’s activity for that of Satan. (pg. 75) Again, that is a serious error.
So back to the question, “Who is to blame?” Looking at life, even among believers, things are not fair. Boyd speaks of a devastating situation that led to a Christian lady’s downward spiral:
After some conversation I learned that Melanie’s downward spiral began about four years earlier when she lost a baby in childbirth. As long as she could remember, Melanie had wanted to mother children. She didn’t marry till her mid-thirties, so to beat the biological clock she and her husband immediately began trying to have a baby. After three years with no success they discovered that because of a medical condition, it was unlikely they would ever be able to conceive a child. Melanie’s extreme disappointment was short-lived, however, for quite remarkably Melanie conceived. “We thought it was a miracle,” she told me.
Unfortunately, this time of hope and joy was short-lived. “Her pregnancy went forward without incident. But her delivery had tragic complications. The umbilical cord was wrapped around her baby’s neck, choking the child to death during the delivery.” Thus, a time that was to be joyous turned into a nightmare and their life turned into “one tormenting why question.”
Naturally she and her husband sought answers. The response they got was in line with the theology that she had grown up with: “God has a reason for everything” or “There are no accidents in God’s providence” or “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, and you just have to trust that God knows and always does what is best. The hand that smites is also the hand that heals. You just have to trust him.” One teacher even went so far as to say, “When the timing is right – and God’s timing is always right – and when you’ve learned what God wants to teach you, perhaps then God will bless you with another child…or perhaps it’s simply not his will for you to have children.”
I don’t know about you, but I don’t find those responses terribly helpful. Is that what our Lord does? Is this what we are to believe – the Creator helps people to get pregnant and then allows the child to die? Is all of the pain and disappointment we see in life just “part of God’s plan”? There’s evidence that the Lord does from time to time chasten His people. (Heb. 12:10) But is that to be our “go to” explanation for the pains of life? Are we to view all disappointment and pain from the vantage point that God has “signed off on it” and it’s somehow part of His unrevealed plan – even a “miracle baby” that dies in childbirth? Are we to believe that God deemed Melanie’s suffering “worth the good” that would come as a result of it? As Boyd says, “Many who embrace the blueprint worldview [that everything is part of God’s “secret plan” – LB] don’t seriously question it – until tragedy strikes home.” Indeed!
Thankfully, there are other factors to consider. Boyd points to three:1)the mystery of an unfathomably complex creation, 2)the mystery of warring cosmic forces, and3)the realization that Jesus Christ is the full revelation of God. While we see God’s work and expressions of His character throughout Scripture, in Jesus Christ the “whole fullness of deity” dwells(Col. 2:9). And in Him we see “the exact imprint” of God’s nature (Heb. 1:3). No wonder Jesus said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” (Jn. 14:9) Thus, if the fullness of God is seen in Jesus, the question would seem to be, “How would Jesus look at the pain in my life?” How would Jesus have viewed Melanie’s loss and consequential spiritual spiral? In time I believe you will agree that these three factors shed much light on things. More to come.
You are loved!