Following the trauma of WWII modern writers have asked the question of whether a belief in God can be justified? The first book that comes to my mind is Night by Elie Wiesel. Wiesel, a survivor of the Holocaust described how senseless the suffering he experienced at Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camp was. The experience created the inescapable conclusion that God was not there to save him. Following in the philosophy tradition of “Theodicy”, the problem of why God permits evil to exist, writings such as Night describe an anti theodicy, as in “how can you possibly insist on believing?”
Today people are asking the same questions about suffering and evil in the world. Recently we heard about the co-pilot flying over the Alps who seems to have flown the plane into the mountains. Many conclude that the only God they would believe in and love, would be a God who is powerless to make a difference in these bad things that happen. In other words they refuse to believe in Jesus as the all powerful and undisputed Savior of the world- in order that they can make sense of the suffering they see in the world.
In the context of counseling it seems commonplace that experiences of abuse and trauma can lead to an impasse in believing. “Where was God when I needed protection most!” To those who have asked, “where was God in my time of need”, there is a temptation to believe Jesus is less than God. This is because he is more lovable if he is simply not able to help us in every need. But to believe this is to believe something entirely different than what Jesus has said about himself.
Jesus never said he has limits to how much he can prevent bad things from happening in the world. Instead Jesus has spoken of the limitless nature of his gifts to us. From John chapter 4: “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” And Jesus also proclaimed: “I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
To describe Jesus in terms of limitations for the sake of personal comfort is just noise. The silence of faith stands in awe of Jesus, and like the Centurion says “Truly this man was the Son of God.”
The silence of faith understands that the world is fallen and bad things, terrible things will continue to happen until Jesus returns. And at that time all things that are wrong in the world will be made right. Jesus will speak to us: “well done good and faithful servants.”
Faith helps us to understand that God is not silent. Jesus shares in our suffering with us. He gives us His word in both the quiet times and the difficult times of life so that we have his presence with us in all circumstances- the good and the bad.
Therapeutically speaking, it is indeed a significant thing to be hurt badly in life by the evil of others. The Christ centered counselor can hear the suffering you experienced and take it in and feel the suffering you experienced without offering a quick fix answer or solution. Following the model of Christ’s love a Christ centered counselor stands in place accepting you in the midst of your pain- understanding and accepting with unconditional love. Not shuddering away from the aspects of yourself that are hardened and rough around the edges because of past tragedy, but gladly listening and seeking to advance healing.
And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” – Mark 15:39