This week a friend of mine wrote me a letter. Like most of my friends who do not believe in God, this man is intelligent, fun, and gracious to our family. Unlike most of my other atheist friends, he is not hesitant to engage in philosophical debate. I admire this quality of his, and I appreciated his frank explanation of why he could not believe in God. His objections are familiar to me – familiar to all of us, I suppose. “If there were really an omniscient, omnipotent God who loves people, then He would act on my behalf. He would not allow such suffering. He would not hide Himself. He would act in a way that makes sense to me.”
Though these accusations resonate with us, they are really madness. We humans cannot imagine what it is like to be eternal, omniscient, or omnipotent, much less how One with those qualities should act. Mired in our various addictions, resentments and fears, we are entirely unfit to make such judgments; but we hurt, and so we beat our fists against the God we hold responsible for our pain. Even we Christians do this at times. We may not doubt the existence of God, but we don’t trust Him fully; we are not always convinced in the deepest part of our being that He is altogether good.
But He is good, and humble and patient. I am awed thinking of Jesus, the one in Whom all creation holds together, standing trial before miserable, proud men. He stands in silence, speaking nothing of His miracles. He calls no character witnesses. He issues no threats. He simply confesses to the charge brought against Him. He is the Christ, the Son of God, and that is the reason we hate Him.
We blame Him for our misery. We hate Him because we do not understand Him. We judge Him because our vision is so small. We are like little children screaming at our father, pouring out the violence of our anger and pain.
Thankfully, God is a Father who loves us more than we dare believe. In sending His Son to walk through the Passion, He takes responsibility for all that was lost in our fall – all the pain and death, all the hostility between brothers, all the futility of the earth, even the accusations we hold against Him. Jesus bears it all. He understands our pain and He cares enough to enter it. He will open all things to His Beloved, and we will “be like Him when we see Him as He is.”
I am no better than Pilate or Caiaphas or my atheist friend. I have accused God more than once. I have threatened to leave Jesus if He did not explain certain things to me – things far beyond my ability to understand. Jesus has treated me the same way He treated His accusers in Jerusalem, with silent patience, allowing me to pour out all my doubt and pain until I could say with Peter, “Where would I go, Lord? You have the words of eternal life.” Blessed be His name!