One of many books we had to read for a theology class in university was titled “If God is God, Then Why?” (by Al Truesdale). I flipped through the book and saw so much highlighted, that I decided to read it again. I remember writing several reflections about this book and after reading it and I could see why – there is so much to question and reflect on. I definitely recommend giving it a read. If you’re too busy though like 98% of people I know, here are some of my summary and reflections on it (-:
If God is God than Why? by Al Truesdale is a book that encompasses a story and perspective from a woman who had to witness great tragedy in her loved ones—her mother who died from cancer, and her father and husband who passed away in the 9/11 attack. Loneliness engulfs her, so she expresses the theological questions with her friend Barbara, who seeks answers through letters to her uncle, a priest, minister, and professor of theology. Within these letters, both Barbara and Janice go to great lengths to answer questions regarding the problem of evil. Though they may not come to a concise answer, their exploration expresses deep consideration to the wide held problem of evil within the world. There were a few of many answers that seemed relatable or convincing to the problem of evil, though they were eventually refuted within the text. Some of the convincing answers to me were that evil and suffering are God’s way of getting our attention, an aspect to life that enhances the soul (soul-making theodicy), and it is a result of abused finite freedom.
First, when professor Carl mentioned that evil is God’s way of getting our attention, I was a bit confused as to why God would do that. Furthermore, Carl later goes on and mentions how God is God, and not associated with evil at all. However, he mentioned one of C.S. Lewis’ quotes—“ God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Though this thought is later refuted because Jesus ultimately suffers with us in our pain, there still seems to be some truth behind it. I have definitely experienced this in my life and seen it happen to others. For example, whenever I get deeply sick, when I have surgery, or even when I have period cramps or pregnancy contractions, I can hear God’s voice so clear, compared to when I am healthy and take many things for granted. Furthermore, I also had a friend who after having an injury from a snowboarding accident, they seemed to have a better understanding of what is important in life during the healing process. In a way, it’s almost like pain and suffering has a way of humbling us. For me, it makes me realize that the only one who can heal the pain is God (the spirit), not worldly things (let’s not get technicial, I’m not talking about medicine…of course that helps for many people…I’m talking about worldly pleasures:). In most instances, it seems that pain is a process that humbles us before God to hear God’s voice clearer.
The second attempted solution that seemed to resonate with me is that evil occurs to better the souls of people, or the soul-making theodicy. I had never heard of this before, and had a hard time grasping the idea. However, Carl mentioned how “Responsible and virtuous character often comes from investing costly personal effort in concrete challenges” (Truesdale 55). Though it is not possible logically, I feel like evil acts and suffering are like challenges and pressure one must overcome in order to be like a diamond in the end. I have seen this in many cancer patients—many aren’t sure if they are going to make it. However if they do end up healing from the process, they seem to have a new thankfulness in their soul for health and many other things in life. The soul making theory makes a lot of sense when the challenge, evil, or suffering is overcome—almost like in the book of Job. Furthermore, the soul making theory is also often seen in many near-death experiences, giving a new profound outlook on life.
Many of the solutions to the problem of evil often seem circumstantial. Reading this book, it was interesting to get a glimpse of some of the possible solutions to the problem of evil. However, some things just seem unexplainable. When pain or suffering occurs throughout the nation, such as school shooting or natural disasters, I am all the more like Janice, questioning why God would allow this or how it can be disguised as good in the greater scheme of things. Yet I later understand that only God knows, because we are merely humans who are dependent on God to sustain us. Maybe professor Carl was right in his brief response—perhaps there is no solution and clear explanation of evil and suffering for us to comprehend. However it is comforting to know that Jesus suffers with humanity, which in the Christian perspective, all the more emphasizes the meaning of the cross.
What are your thoughts on this subject? Let us know in the comments below!