“Why does God allow people to have to live like this?”
The question caught me off guard.
We were sitting in a bible study class and one of the women began to speak about an elderly relative whose quality of life had long since been depleted. An empty, broken shell remained in almost constant pain and suffering with no ability to speak her woes.
I hope and pray that the fumbling answer I gave that day may have had the spark of the Holy Spirit in it, so that my inadequate answer might have grown into something more adequate in that woman’s heart.
As for me, I’ve often meditated on that question asked of me when I was a young, fresh-out-of-seminary minister. Those moments often bring me back to Paul’s words to the Corinthians:
Even if our bodies are breaking down on the outside, the person that we are on the inside is being renewed every day. Our temporary minor problems are producing an eternal stockpile of glory for us that is beyond all comparison.2 Corinthians 4:16b-17
During Lent we recall our mortality.
It is the very first action we make in the season and then we spend the next forty days denying our flesh certain items as a constant reminder of that mortality. These actions of denying the flesh often strengthen our faith.
However, when we see the effects of mortality playing out in the life of someone we love, it can become a crisis of faith.
We struggle to understand why good people are left struggling under the burdens of the flesh: aging, illness, disease, injury, the wounds of violence, the destruction of the flesh brought about by starvation and poverty, the decaying effects of addictions…
I didn’t have a good answer for that woman several years back, and I don’t have a great answer now.
I don’t know why God allows such things to happen, especially to good people.
It is one of the more troubling mysteries of faith.
However, I have the words of Paul and I know they bring me some solace and I hope they bring some peace to others. And so I cling to them.
What we suffer in this world is but a fleeting thing. And no matter how the outer shell may fracture and break, no matter how it may decay, the soul is still alive in Christ Jesus and we have the promise of eternal glory.
How have you faced your mortality in this season of lent? What fears do you have about mortality? What concerns? What hopes? How do you think the world views mortality? What can you help the world to understand about such things?