Defending God

[the·od·i·cy  -noun: a defense of God’s goodness in the face of evil]

“And the baby died!”  If the prosecutor utters those fateful words in a civil courtroom, then all the defense can hope to do is mitigate the damages.  That same courtroom catch-phrase which means sure conviction and stiff penalties is also leveled at God with devastating results.  We can all think of terrible situations that we have experienced, heard about or simply wouldn’t ever want to be in, and those are the charges we level at the Lord of the universe.  “I desire to speak to the Almighty and to argue my case with God.” (Job 13:3).  By logic and reason, by comparison, by our own discernment and judgment, the world deserves better treatment than this.  If we cannot have the inner peace and happiness we desire, then we should, at least, have answers.  We should be able to see His good purposes at work.  If He would satisfy our minds, then we might – occasionally – for the very best of reasons – consent to have our hearts broken.

Of all the questions in all the world, “Why?” is the one we are not allowed to ask.  Perhaps this is the question Eve pondered while munching on the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It has bothered commentators for centuries that God gave no reason for His ban on that one tree. Satan, himself, suggested that God’s reasons were inadequate, that Eve should be able to understand and to judge for herself. But her test was trust. Consider also Job’s horrendous ordeal. Even now, four thousand years later, we all understand his desire to have it out with God.  As far as we know he never did get a reason for all the calamities which fell on him seemingly out of the blue. When the Lord answered Job out of the storm, it was Job, not God, who was challenged: “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me.” (Job 38:3). His test was trust.

If we had God in the dock, of what would we accuse Him anyway?  We can make no case for our innocence – or even the innocence of that proverbial baby, inclined toward sin and selfishness from the womb. We can claim no wisdom greater than God’s. Jesus Christ CrucifixOur idea of “good” is small and subjective.  We have no high ground from which to judge the actions of the Architect of everything. There is so very much that we do not understand.  And our sins are so very clear. When we are called into His court, the only defense we can give for ourselves is “Jesus.” And the only defense God gives to us right now is the same one: Jesus.  In obedience to His Father, Jesus gave up divine splendor to share our care-worn existence, and He died a humiliating, excruciating death in our place so that we could have eternal life. Either we can trust the God who loves His children that much – or we can’t. The voice that beguiled Eve is still telling us that we can decide for ourselves. We can judge the Creator. Our test is trust.  And the answer is Jesus.

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? . . . Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:32-39).

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