In many ways, Al Truesdale’s If God is God, Then Why? (Beacon Hill Press, 2002) is a helpful book. Originally written after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1996, Truesdale updated the book following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In dogged fashion, he refuses to give simplistic answers to life’s toughest questions. His call is to treat hurting people with pastoral sensitivity, to silence some of our off-handed comments that might otherwise cause greater pain to a person who is already hurting.
One by one, Al Truesdale takes up the traditional solutions offered as theodicy (justifying God). One by one, those answers to the problem of evil and suffering are weighed and found to be inadequate. By the end of the book, the fictitious Barbara and Janice are desperate for a satisfying response from their Uncle Carl, a retired pastor. What response will he give to the theodicy riddle?
Note to the reader:
These thoughts on “natural evil” apply as much to yesterday’s devastating tornado in Joplin, Missouri as they did to the Haiti earthquake of January, 2010. Faith seeking understanding can raise more questions than it answers, yet sometimes, questioning is its own solace. Our prayers go out to the families of those who lost loved ones, whether in Port-au-Prince or Joplin.
Last night, I tossed and turned. Finally, at 4 a.m. I gave up and went downstairs. Haiti was on my mind.
Estimates are that 110,000 Haitians died in the recent earthquake. News reports included names of specific locations in Haiti’s capital city that my wife, sons, and I frequented while living there briefly as missionaries, like the supermarket where we shopped that collapsed into rubble.
Some stories have been wrenching. Eleven year old Anaika Saint-Louis was a happy girl, sang in her church choir, and told anyone who would listen that someday, she would be a lawyer. When the quake hit, she was trapped under tons of concrete. For three days, she prayed desperately to God to save her. After heroic efforts, workers freed her, but at the cost of an amputated leg. She died en route to specialized medical treatment, three hours away. The Apostles’ Creed affirms: “I believe in the resurrection of the body.” We will see courageous Anaika again someday, but meanwhile her mom weeps, and we weep with her.