I woke up early this morning and wasn’t ready to get out of bed yet, so I lay there listening to a podcast from A Christian and an Atheist (podcast #101 for any who are interested in checking it out). The title to the podcast is The Problem of Suffering. For all those who are not interested in listening to it, it’s safe for you to assume the question under discussion is “how can an all-loving and all-powerful god allow so much suffering?”
Only half listening, my mind meandered through different “happy” stories I’ve heard in which God gets the credit for making everything work out. But what if you don’t know the whole story?
A Christian couple has tried for years to have a baby. You know the story. Prayer, tests, more prayer, more tests, and no baby. It’s just not going to happen. Finally, having given up all hope of having their own biological child, they decide to adopt. At the same time, a pregnant woman has decided she doesn’t want her child but she’s too far along to abort it, so she decides to give the child up for adoption. The Christian couple are the happy recipients of this baby, and obviously God worked it all out. Right? Right?
What the Christian couple doesn’t know is that while they’re praising God for being so good to them and blessing them with this “unwanted” little girl, the “unwanted” child’s father (a Christian and a good friend of mine) had very much wanted her. His girlfriend left him because he didn’t want the abortion. When she found she was too far along to have the abortion, she never told him. Never gave him the chance to keep his baby and raise her himself like he’d always wanted to. Instead, she let him believe she went ahead with the abortion, and then adopted the little girl out to the Christian couple.
Two and a half years after his daughter was born, my friend’s ex emailed him to say she’d had the baby and given her up for adoption. Attached were a couple of pictures of a smiling blonde little girl.
If God really did bless that Christian couple with the daughter they have been loving and raising all these years, then how does my friend’s loss and heartbreak fit in? He loved God too, after all. Did God just not love him as much as the other couple? Was he not deemed worthy enough to raise his own daughter? And how many other “blessings from God” do people receive without looking deeper to see whose tragedy they are being blessed by?
(Note: This story was told with my friend’s permission)