Reflections on loving God, being Catholic, being a woman, being ill, loving life and anything else that comes to mind.

Monday, February 12, 2007

God and the Problem of Suffering - Risk

I was utterly dumbfounded when I realized it. No words could express my immense shock and disbelief but though it seemed impossible, it was true, God had used my foster father to save my life. For perhaps half an hour, quite a long time by my standards, I could neither think nor speak; I felt that the room had suddenly expanded, that the world held far more now than it had an instant before. It was like the first time I saw a water bug. That sight was so astounding, I sat on my bed shaking my head in disbelief: how could anything be that big? And yet water bugs are that big and now, the world was revealing itself as something far bigger than I had ever imagined, something that might contain all sorts of things I had never before encountered. Finally, I heard myself say aloud:

“How could you be so stupid?”

My words surprised me but the anger they revealed was an even greater surprise. But with God, I had learned not to dissemble so I demanded:

“How could you be so stupid, God? How could you take such a risk? On me? Why would you do such a thing? Don’t you know me? What if I had not turned to you? Don’t you know how awful I can be? How much I hated him? How I wanted him dead? How badly I wanted to die? How could you do such a thing? How could you take such a risk on me? It was apparent that God was unimaginably dumb.

My thoughts turned to the Annunciation. Often I had imagined heaven holding its breath as it waited for Mary’s response. But really, what else could her decision have been? She had been prepared. Immaculately conceived. Made able to say yes when it would have been so natural to say no, so natural to believe that the angel was just a silly fancy. But I am not the Blessed Virgin – nothing like her. I am self centered and terribly childish. God takes care of me, protects me from myself, mitigates my worse impulses; his presence makes it so I need never grow up. But without him, I would not be at all safe. I would be an enraged child making the world pay for all I have lost, all I have suffered. Or I would be dead. And though he has always been with me, though I have absolutely no memory of a time when he was not a palpable presence in my life, I am so much less than I should be; I do not respond to his love as well as I could and sometimes mine is willful failure. I am definitely not someone on whom he should take such a risk .

God made no answer but the world did not regain its accustomed size. Instead possibilities presented themselves to my mind: What if heaven had held its breath for me too? What if I too had been prepared? What if four and one-half years with my parents and a lifetime of hanging out with God had been part of it? What if God knows me better than I know myself? What if he knew that I could have said no but also knew that he had given me everything I needed to take my immense pain, my horrible wounds to the only parent I knew and say, like the little child I am, ‘I’m broke. Fix me.’ What if God really did know what he was doing?

Again I was dumbfounded because I knew my possibilities were facts so that whereas I might have chosen to wallow in my pain and be a tortured soul, I had also been given what I needed to be a broken little girl presenting her wounds to the only doctor able to heal her, her Father. And with that knowledge came wonder – that God would do such great things for me, that he would love me that much, that he would take such risks and have such hope for me. With the wonder came immense gratitude – perhaps the first real gratitude I had known since I was a child. And in the midst of gratitude, another possibility arose, something so big I could not even begin to express it. All I could do was whisper:

“There is more going on than I ever realized, isn’t there God?”


forget me not said...


Marion (Mael Muire) said...

Drusilla, I find your blog like "a book you can't put down"!

Kathleen Lundquist said...


This is really good.

I think I'll drop in more regularly here - you're a fantastic writer, and I really relate to your insights.