A reader writes:
I've been following your posts on theodicy and it dovetails with something that's happening in my own life right now.
A cousin just died last Friday of ALS – Lou Gehrig's disease. I don't know how familiar you are with the disease, but it's among the most cruel, evil of diseases – robbing the person of his ability to move, to communicate, to go to the bathroom by himself – yet leaving his or her mind untouched.
My cousin was a man with a very strong faith in God, but after about five years of fighting the disease it just got too hard. He was getting worse, it was costing so much money, it caused so much anguish for him but moreso, for his family – his wife and his four girls, ages 12-19. They watched their daddy, their rock, shrivel up and die. And I know how much they loved him – it had to have been the most devastating thing imaginable.
They remain devout; and I've no doubt their faith has helped them get through this. But I look at it and think: Where is the justice in this? If faith cannot protect the most devout, the best among us, who can it protect? And what's it for, then? I cannot consider his death, and the pain it inflicted upon his children, and think that there was some greater purpose in it. I cannot think of it as anything but UNjust; and as such, if God does exist, I cannot consider him anything but unjust, or at best arbitrary.
When faith serves no practical purpose, when even those with the most faith are at risk of being slapped down like this, I see no reason for faith. A greater purpose? Bullshit. For this man, there was no greater purpose than his children; now they are fatherless. The God to whom they devoted such a large portion of their lives could do nothing to prevent it; their personal relationship with Jesus Christ afforded them no protections. Perhaps they are wiser. But all I can think about is: There is no justice in the world. And how, then, can I believe in a just God?