The Nature of God

I recently had an email exchange with someone who lost her 6-year old son to a brain tumour. She told me this, “It feels like I am an entirely different human from that person who blogged my son’s journey. Don’t read it, it’s sad. I was a rather holy person, and now I have little faith but a hollow space where my heart once was.”

Despite the warning, I read her blog. It told a tale of which I’m somewhat familiar - of hope, anxiety and endless worry. The blog also revealed a profound Christian faith. Every post ended with, ‘In God we Trust. Thanking God for healing my baby.’ In one of her last posts, the woman admitted this: “I want more for my son’s life; more giggles, more smiles, more walks and more adventures. I would give up everything I own to save my son!” My heart sank while reading that, knowing that those things had not been possible. So it was easy to understand why she had lost her belief. After all, God had not healed her son.

I told her this: “I can see how strong your faith was from reading your blog, and thoroughly understand your loss challenging your belief in God. But I think that’s a shame too. Perhaps one day you will return to Christianity. And If you cannot presently turn to God, then I hope you have plenty of support elsewhere. A shoulder to cry on can be oh so helpful.” Perhaps that was a little challenging because I have not heard back from her since. I hope she understood the comforting intention of my reply. I hope it wasn’t a bit too clumsy.

The whole exchange got me thinking about people’s expectation of their faith. I didn’t want to examine the Bible to try and understand what scripture has to say about individual suffering. I don’t doubt that it contains much wisdom. I merely wondered about the nature of belief. Can we expect God to intervene in every random act of suffering? Evidence would suggest not. After all, the world has been torn apart by many wars. The innocent have been slaughtered. People starve while others gorge themselves into obesity. Two hundred species are going extinct every day due to environmental degradation caused by the greed of man. And diseases like brain tumours claim the lives of beautiful children. They do not deserve to suffer. If you believe in an omnipotent God that oversees every human action, then I can understand such things shaking your belief. But I think faith in such a God is mistaken.

I am in no doubt that religion has a significant role to play in the world. I am not Christian, but I have a belief in God. However, mine is not a God who I hope will intervene to end my daughter’s suffering. It is a God that forms the soul of all living beings, whose love we occasionally tap into when we practice religion. For me, that happens when I meditate, or when I watch a Buzzard circle overhead or when I try and move as slowly as an old Oak tree on the edge of an ancient woods. And when we see His beauty, we transcend the wanton greed of man. It is to spirituality we must, therefore, turn if the world is ever going to survive all of our wars and environmental destruction. If we are going to find the cure for childhood cancer, then we must look to doctors who are attempting to end the suffering of children. Those doctors transcend the wants of individuals. They are spiritual beings that represent all that is good in God. I hope the woman who lost her son to a brain tumour regains her faith, despite her loss.

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