11.13.2013

The Teething Baby Theory: Where is God When Life Goes Bad?

I often complain about difficult circumstances.  I even ask the question, "Where is God when life goes wrong?" and I ask it often.

I recently finished reading "Samson", a book detailing the horrors that Jews endured in Auschwitz. One question that repeatedly surfaced is, "Where is God?"  Skeptics and atheists like to point to the notion that "...if God were all-powerful and all-loving, then He would should have stopped the holocaust because He would have been capable and would have loved His people enough to do so. But since He didn't stop it, then He must not be all-powerful and/or all-loving."

A friend of mine who has a young child recently lamented that she was tired on a particular day because she was awake all night with a whiny, crabby teething baby.  While I have no recollection of the pain associated with the teething process, I have raised children of my own who have.  Many of you are also familiar with it.

As I consider the teething process, I wonder what it would be like if I had the ability to stop it -- not simply stop the PAIN associated with it, but stop the process altogether.  What if my child could have asked, "Why don't you stop this, Dad?"

I likely would have answered, "Son, it's for your good, but you just have to trust me.  Be strong through the pain and the process, and on the other side of it you'll be thankful."  But how would I have expected my son to respond?  "Yeah, Dad, this is just great.  My nose is constantly running, I can't sleep at night, I drool all over my clothes and pillow and blankets, I can't nap during the day, and I'm getting a headache from crying so much.  Yeah, right, this is for my good, eh?"

But now look at it from an "outside" perspective...let's just call it "omniscience" for now.  If I stopped the teething process, my son would never experience the joys of biting into a juicy steak, or finishing off an ice-cream cone, or chewing gum.  Instead, he would be stuck gumming applesauce, slurping gelatin goo, and sipping malts all of his days.

But although I (in this little scenario) had the power to stop the process, I didn't do so.  Why? BECAUSE I have complete love for my son and I want him to enjoy the finer things in life.  I love him, and therefore I encourage and comfort him through the pain. Sure, I could have stopped it, but I know that the other side holds the greatest of joys!

"Are you suggesting the best way to allow the greatest of joys is through torture, pain, and holocaust?"  I'm not suggesting it's the only way, but we cannot deny the profound effect pain has on our understanding and receiving of joy.

4 comments:

  1. I think your approach covers the "omniscience" issue but ignores the "omnipotence" issue - or covers the "all-loving" (sort of) without addressing the "all-powerful. Your son could still enjoy all those great foods had you just made him be born with teeth to begin with, and then he wouldn't have to go through the pain of teething. If everything is going to be set right at the coming of the end of the age - with no help from mankind, then why all the suffering in the hear and now? What is the benefit?

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    1. Eric, like I mentioned, it's not a perfect analogy. But the omniscience part comes in with my knowing about what the future holds, and the omnipotence part comes in with my mention of being ABLE to stop, but choosing not to. Why I didn't create my baby with teeth in the first place is beyond me :-)) Maybe you could ask a breast-feeding mother...but, then again, said baby wouldn't need milk, but a juicy steak.

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  2. Mike Warner6:42 PM

    Well, if God stopped all human beings from doing bad things, there would be no free will. We would be robots. I, for one, am glad I have free will, even though it carries with it the capacity to do harm. I can only fully enjoy love when I reject hate. Pleasure can only truly appreciated if one has experienced pain. God offers us the choice of loving him or rejecting him. We can't truly love him if he removes all possibility of rejecting him through our actions, no matter how harmful they are to others. What you want is heaven on earth, yet man keeps choosing harmful actions that make this an often sad place to be, then we want to blame God for it. What you seek awaits us in heaven. Put your trust in God and someday you will experience that type of life in ways you can't even begin to imagine. God bless.

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    1. Free will has a LOT to do with it, you are absolutely correct Mike. I like it that my wife chooses to love me, and is not forced to do so. The same is true from God's perspective, I think.

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