16Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi. 17Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:
18“A VOICE WAS HEARD IN RAMAH,
WEEPING AND GREAT MOURNING,
RACHEL WEEPING FOR HER CHILDREN;
AND SHE REFUSED TO BE COMFORTED,
BECAUSE THEY WERE NO MORE.”
I started this post about a month ago as part of a study from the men’s breakfast I attend. It went through several iterations. Then the tragedy of Sandy Hook School happened in Newtown, Connecticut.
This passage and that event may lead us to ask how a loving God could allow such a thing. Surely if He is God and He cares He would have prevented this slaughter of innocents. After all, as Huston Smith writes in his book, The World’s Religions, “Whatever else the word God may mean, it means the being in which power and value converge, a being whose will cannot be thwarted and whose will is good.”
So we are confronted by what may seem to us an impossibility. A loving God who surely could have intervened but did not.
If He cares, if He is capable, if He exists…
So let us assume He does not. Assume that there is no loving God in the universe who promises to comfort the broken, lift up the weak, answer our sorrows and wipe away our tears. No loving God whose power extends beyond the grave, who has the last word over the actions of the wicked. None who can and will make the crooked places straight and whose glory will be revealed to all mankind.
What then shall we say to the mothers of Bethlehem or the mothers throughout history? What hope will we give them if the grave is the end? If there is no mighty God of power to overcome the acts of wicked men? What hope for solace and the end of unspeakable pain? Will we offer them a cold and pointless universe, a grave?
So do we offer them a false hope, a lie for children who cannot face the terror of the real world?
Only if the child that Herod tried to kill was never born. Only if that child as a man, crucified by wicked men who could not bear to hear the Truth, was not raised from the dead. Only if that man, The Christ, the Son of the Living God did not make a way for peace with God through His sacrifice on Calvary.
But those things are true, there is hope. There is a loving God whose power cannot be overcome. Who will swallow up death forever, and wipe away the tears from all faces.
apologies if I missed something, but do you think it would be appropriate to lie to give people false hope? You asked the question, but avoid answering it by saying the hope was not false. What if God really doesn’t exist, would you approve of making him up to comfort people?
It would seem you did miss something. The point is that the hope is not false. The birth, death and resurrection of Christ are historical facts (as much as any history is verifiable from written accounts). Accepting these accounts as valid resolves more questions than they pose (even in simple historical terms).
Saying He does not exist because we do not understand, denies real hope. It seems to me that result is often overlooked.
As I wrestled with the question in the days prior to 12/14/12 I understood it had to be a first person issue because God loves us individually. I could not find a succinct way to express that. Yes we are born to sorrow and strife in this world, sin is real. It would seem it must be this way. What God has done through Christ is deal with that sin and ultimately with its effect. In the abstract it is clear that a face to face encounter with the creator of the universe would overshadow all earthly concern. It is also clear that the hope and comfort for such a catastrophic loss is only required by those on this side of the veil (this is true regardless of your position on God’s existence). The problem with expressing it in those terms is that can seem to minimize the very real pain and anguish of the experience. The power of the hope that lives in us is exposed when He redeems a shattered life. As God, this is what He will do if we can but trust. The point is that there is real hope, we are empowered by a living God who really exists.