Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Perfect Father

In my own childhood and boyhood my father was the refuge from all the ills of life, even sharp pain itself. Therefore I say to son or daughter who has no pleasure in the name Father, "You must interpret the word by all that you have missed in life. All that human tenderness can give or desire in the nearness and readiness of love, all and infinitely more must be true of the perfect Father- of the maker of fatherhood." (The Heart of George MacDonald)

My best friend in high school was severely abused by her father. She still struggles with nightmares because of the abuse he inflicted upon her. I don't know that I would have ever been able to forgive my father for his absence and failings if I hadn't known my friend. I saw her accept that God the Father was someone to run to, not from. That He was the perfect Father and everything that her terrifying human father was not.

A lot of my early struggles with God centered around the evil He allowed in the world. I could only reconcile child abuse and cancer two ways: Either God was loving and powerless, or He was powerful and evil. It seemed to me that the loving God described to me in Sunday School would not allow the world to continue as it is. And that since He had allowed the evil I could clearly see every day, then He must be evil and He must enjoy watching humanity suffer.

It was not until I saw my friend grapple with God about the abuse she had experienced that I could search out what the truth must be: that God allows us to choose evil or good, and that since He could see the whole picture His way must truly be best. That to Him it was better to give us choice, even knowing what we would make of that choice, than to make us into obedient worshipful robots. Sometimes I still have a hard time accepting that His way is best.

Sometimes when I see the helpless suffer- the children in Africa devastated by AIDS and trapped in refugee camps - I think it would be better for us to be obedient & mindless.

Dealing with the evil in the world- cancer, abuse, careless hurtfulness, self-righteousness, casual selfishness; the travesties played out through history like the Spanish Inquisition, the Trail of Tears, Apartheid... This is where I still question God. This is the sticking point for me. I wonder what He's up to... Why He allows things to go on so long... Why He has allowed us to go on so long...

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