I recently read something that attempted to define what it means to be a “Christian.” In so many words, the author said it boiled down to this: Life is cyclical and even though we may not understand why things happen, Christians need to have faith in God and just trust all that he is doing.
I don’t know about this author’s other readers, but I am not content sitting back watching terrible, incomprehensible things transpire and forcing myself to rely on “faith” so that I can reconcile still loving and trusting God. Moses did not do that. Neither did Abraham or Jacob. They understood that God does not need our defense because He is not vulnerable nor does He suffer as human beings do. He is eternal. But humans are defenseless in the sense that we ache and die. We cannot exist without support and love. And it is for that reason that we are “charged with the pursuit of love and justice, even if it means sparring with the Creator” (The Modern Guide to Judaism, Shmuley Boteach).
Upon witnessing life’s various atrocities, we should not ask God to help us understand why it has happened and how it fits into His plan. Instead, we should respectfully ask Him, “Why are you allowing this to happen? What in the world is going on?! Are you not the God who taught us that life is sacred and must be preserved at all costs? Were they not Your words when You uttered that the good deserve goodness and not pain? Where is that promise now? Considering everything You deem sacred, this needs to cease.”
While “reminding” the Creator of His character may seem to call His divine authority into question, rest assured it does not. Remaining passive in the face of suffering is a sin, a crime against the heart of both your fellow man and your Creator (Boteach). Those that profess love for God should pray out of a place of knowing. His profound goodness and justness offers assurance that it may be possible for His desired end to be actualized through less painful means. His will shall be done, but that does not stop us from seeking a change in means.
As Creator of the universe, it is God’s role to steer the world in the manner He sees fit. But our role as humans, as His creation, is to promote the values He has deemed superior: life, compassion, goodness, and hope (Boteach). We should not kick up our heels and accept this world as it stands. “Such is life” should not be a term thrown around dismissively. Instead, we should pursue a return to Eden: a world of virtue, value, and visions of God’s holy light over every thing.
God is not unjust, unkind or unloving. But there are so many of His children in the world wandering aimlessly because they hear such awful messages of passivity. They hear God’s “believers” insisting that this suffering is deserved and is the result of sin or the more dismissive “everything happens for a reason.” But in the face of despair, those are the last words that a hurting heart needs to hear.
We should instead grab our neighbor’s hand and say, “I am not okay with this. My heart aches with you. And right now in front of you, I am going to protest this.”