I read Ashleigh Sean Rolle’s fantastic blog titled, “How Does God Decide?” and I had to give an unsolicited response because it so articulately summed up what a lot of Bahamians, particularly Grand Bahamians and Abaconians, felt in response to Hurricane Dorian.
Specifically, the article asked if God is real, then how could he allow such suffering — allowing our loved ones and Bahamian brethren to die so violently and with so much destruction in its wake without an explanation or justification?
I think that this is a question many of us have long been stuck with — and the answers just haven’t been satisfactory. Some cover up the emptiness with “let’s just move on and continue to progress.” Others don’t think about it. And others still live within the tension, “Well, I’ve lost loved ones — literally hundreds of people were carried out to sea, never to be seen again, died violently – how does a good God allow this to happen?”
There are two categories of response to this that certainly cannot do the entire subject justice but maybe can help point people towards different paths for an answer. They fall into two categories, a philosophical response and more of a compassionate and pastoral response.
The first, a philosophical perspective, asks, “If God is real, why is there evil —Dorian?”
When we’re examining if God is good, we must first establish if the God of the Bible actually exists. And, if we can follow the evidence for Christianity and the hypothesis that he does, how can we correlate the goodness of God with such suffering? I’m talking about frequent destructive storms, not even just Hurricane Dorian.
Philosophically, this is something that my professor, Dr. Frank Turek helped me to understand. If we’re asking the question, “If God, why evil?” or “If God, why suffering,” we ought to consider the following. If God was to start intervening in humankind every time evil was committed, an injustice was done, or suffering happened — maybe he would start with me. Maybe he would start with you.
I think that’s something to consider because if there is an intrinsic, objective moral code that we’re all supposed to live by that’s embedded in our hearts. But, then, we err on that every day in some way, form, or fashion, whether big or small.
As Jacques-Marie-Louis Monsabré, a nineteenth-century French Dominican profoundly observed, “If God would concede me His omnipotence for 24 hours, you would see how many changes I would make in the world. But if He gave me His wisdom too, I would leave things as they are”
Sometimes when we think about how powerful the God of the Bible is, forget about him being all-wise as well.
A second, a compassionate and pastoral perspective, offers the following.
For the pain of losing family, friends, loved ones, homes, business, property — you name it — so violently and destructively to Hurricane Dorian, literally, sweeping people out of their homes into the sea with some never to be seen or heard from again — that hurts, a lot. Just the thought of it is immobilizing.
Who’s responsible? Who can we condemn to pay the penalty for this happening? Because it hurt then and it hurts now. Many of us still live with that pain to this day.
Those are valid emotions and valid feelings. Having stood here as this happened all around me, I myself feeling similarly. But I think even with that, we can ask ourselves this question: For the injustices of the unexplained and unwarranted, violent deaths of our loved ones, who is going to pay the price? These are injustices that demand a hearing — and a hearing that demands a verdict.
The question for the Christian believer, the inquirer, or the answer-seeker is, “If I follow the evidence where it leads me, and I get an objective, intellectually satisfying response, but it’s emotionally discomforting — is God still good?” I personally think he is. And that leaves us in the tension between our head — what we logically and reasonably think, and our heart — what we emotionally feel.
Now, the question remains, can we live within that tension? Because it seems we must.
Brinard Sweeting is a Grand Bahamian Certified Internet Webmaster (CIW) and Certified Web Design Specialist. He serves as the president and digital director of the creative and super-talented team at Visionary Pro Digital, a website design and digital marketing agency based in The Bahamas that designed the Dorian and Beyond project website. Learn more about his work online at https://www.visionary.digital.