To read this morning's office, click here or see The Divine Hours, pp. 231-232.
The Refrain in today's office is sobering: "Our God is in heaven; whatever he wills to do, he does."
But sometimes this one is harder to comprehend than anything we say about God: why, we are entitled to ask, does God permit so much cruelty? the senseless bombings in London? the bloodshed in Rwanda? the systemic violence of corrupt leaders? Why?, we ask.
To approximate the words of St. Augustine, we are left with this:
If God were all-good, he would only will good, and if he were all-powerful, he would be able to do all that he wills. But there is evil. Therefore God is either not all-good or not all-powerful, or both.
To which I would comment: The problem with this way of putting it puts us in the laps of Job's friends, who constantly worked with the correlation of life here as a reflection of obedience. The resolution of Job, if we can call it that, is this: we don't know why God does what God does. But we are committed to God's goodness and his mercy, and that means when we see bad things on earth we do two things: (1) confess God's goodness and live in light of it, and (2) continue to live our life in dedication to the kingdom of God. God gave us freedom, and no one ever said that giving us freedom to love or not to love would mean that everything in life would correlate good behavior with good results and bad behavior and bad results.
I struggle with the news shows; I'm deeply sorry about Natalee Holloway and her family; I wonder about those who were near the English bombs and who survived and those who didn't and the loved ones of those who died. But I live in light of God's goodness and sometimes it is hard.
It is because I don't understand that I trust God; it is because I understand God that I trust.