I’ve talked several times on this site about my faith, and in particular how my faith has been helpful for me in managing my mental illnesses. Yet I haven’t addressed one important question that I struggled with early on, a question that I think many who have chronic illness struggle with. Where is God during these illnesses? Where is God when the darkness comes?
If God is supposed to be omnipotent and omnipresent, like it says in the Bible, then the logical conclusion is that He knows I am suffering, but does nothing. This means that either He is not willing to alleviate my pain, which seems awfully uncaring of an entity that supposedly loves us, or He isn’t capable of addressing my pain, which undermines His all-powerfulness. And this raises the question, is it worth believing in and worshiping a deity that either lies about how powerful He is or doesn’t care enough to address the suffering I have?
As an initial matter, it may seem heretical to even suggest this. But going deeper in our faith means examining the difficult questions.
So where is God when the darkness comes? There are many possible answers. The first is that it is a test of my faith, to make sure I am worthy of being elected by His grace for eternal life with Him in heaven. Perhaps, but that goes against other passages in scripture that suggest that all one must do to receive salvation is accept Jesus Christ as their savior. And for this reason I am skeptical of it being a test from Him.
Another possible reason is that He is using hardship to help shape my character. In other words, He has a plan for me, but He needs me to be shaped by hardship to be the kind of person who is ready to implement His plan. At first glance, this seems more likely. After all, plenty of parents show their children tough love because they know it will prepare that child for the rigors of the world. Yet what about those who succumb to the darkness via suicide? Could that be His plan for them? After all, the Catholic Church views suicide as a mortal sin, worthy of an eternity in hell. Yet science shows more and more that suicide is a symptom of a brain in distress, and how could dying from a symptom of any illness be worthy of eternal damnation?
Perhaps the most theological answer is that when humanity first sinned, we fell away from God. By sinning, we condemned ourselves to be sinners by our very nature, capable of redemption only through repentance, acceptance of Jesus as our savior, and God’s everlasting grace. And despite our best efforts, despite the efforts of Jesus, and the apostles, and of the preachers, pastors, priests, deacons, and saints, our society continues to pull away from God.
This theory is the one that makes the most sense for me. Humanity’s original sin didn’t just introduce sin and evil to the world, it also set us on the path we are on today, a path where we feel that we don’t need God because of the amazing discoveries science has made. However, those scientists never stop to wonder if perhaps they have merely discovered a new aspect of God’s natural law, the way one discovers a new directive from Him when one turns the page in their Bible.
And our chemicals and our discoveries surely make the world better in some ways, but they also tarnish His creation, adding pollution, and introducing harm to the bodies He stitched together in our mother’s womb. Original sin, didn’t just introduce sin and evil, but also illness such as cancer, auto-immune diseases, diabetes, and even mental illness.
Put another way my depression, my anxiety is the result of humanity’s fall from God. It is our doing. And though He loves us, though He sent his only begotten son to die for us, He wants us to learn from our actions, He wants to see how we handle the illness and darkness we brought into the world. And as I will explain in tomorrow’s post, this theory makes the most sense for me not only because it fits with my reading of scripture, but also because it has evolutionary support. If science is just discovering His natural laws, then we should seek to find where faith and science complement one another rather than opposing one another.
So where is God in the darkness? He is there, watching us and cheering for us, waiting for us to succeed.