When I was a child I was molested and raped by some teenage boys in my apartment complex. Obviously this messed me up quite a bit. I became very withdrawn and shy. I had no confidence as I grew up. Because of this the other kids teased me and made fun of me. I became the very image of teenage angst. Many people who suffer early on have a hard time believing in God. How could there be a good all loving God when all these terrible things have happened to me? I never had that problem. I believed in Him with no doubt. I hated Him. I blamed Him for all the things that happened to me. I hated Him because He made this world and He put me in it.
My grandmother loved the footprints story. You know the one where the man walks on the beach with God and watches all the events in his life. He begins to notice that in times of trouble and pain he only saw one set of footprints in the sand. He asks God, “where were you in all the bad times? Why do I only see one set of footprints when I was suffering?” God answers, “You only see the one set of footprints because they are mine, because those were the times I was carrying you.” She used to tell me that all the time. I never felt like God was carrying me though. The picture of the single line of footprints on a beach just used to make me sad. It looked so lonely.
There is another image out there. One that I wish I had been more open to at the time. It is the image of a naked man nailed to a cross. I wish someone had shown me that picture and told me what it really was, more than, “He died for your sins.” Maybe I would have had a different opinion of God back then. Maybe I wouldn’t have made some of the mistakes I would later make.
Where was God while I was being raped? Why didn’t He stop it? Why did He allow it to happen to me in the first place? Some people like to say that everything happens for a reason. For what reason was I raped? What deeper meaning was there?
This is one of the most important questions we face as humans. If we have a good all-powerful God, who is love, why is there so much horror and misery in the world? Theologians have gone back and forth on this issue for millennia. If God is all-knowing and all-powerful than nothing can happen with out His knowledge and consent. Even evil. Does that mean that God not only allowed, but planned war, genocide, rape, slavery, addiction, disease, famine, and all other human suffering? Even if He is not the direct cause of these things He is at least complicit in them. He does not stop them therefore He must allow them. What are we to make of a God who acts like this? Why would we ever love Him except maybe to try and get in His good graces? There are many people who do just that, they fear the wrathful God and obey and “love” Him to placate Him, so He might leave them alone, maybe even bless them.
Is that all there is?
The answer is found in the image of Jesus crucified. God Himself was nailed to a couple of pieces of wood and left to die. This was His answer to all the suffering in the world, to join in it. He didn’t stay in some heaven light years away from pain, but instead He dived straight into our suffering. He lived it, and He died in it.
Cux probat omnia, the cross proves everything. That is what this series will try to demonstrate. I will probably challenge much of your theology before we are done. Don’t worry, I am not trying to change your beliefs about God, but only trying to give you a new idea.
Continued in The Lamb of God