By By Chap. (Capt.) Jay West, 1st Battalion, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard)May 21, 2009
When a book is popular and making the rounds, I tend to look at it with suspicious eyes. "The Shack" is one such book. It was, I had decided solely by listening to others talk, a pop-culture spiritual volume devoid of any true theology. After all, how could a book available in paper-back contain a life-changing spiritual message'
And then, I read the book, and one read turned into a second, more thorough reading. Then, I bought the companion study guide. Now, it sits on my desk as a reference work.
Paul Young, the book's author, seeks to answer a question many of us ask: Where is God in a world filled with unspeakable pain' In fact, I suspect that one reason Young's book is so popular is that it addresses some of the most basic human needs and struggles and deals with the emptiness that we sometimes feel.
What does one do when experiencing such forsakenness, even from God' What do you do and where do you go with this emptiness and anger'
A true human experience is that sometimes we do get angry at God! We hold God
responsible for events that happen in our lives, and spend time asking why these things
happen and asking where God is in the midst of these events. We look around the world at all the suffering, hunger, poverty, evil, and ask, "Where is God'"
There are various answers to this question. Some try to avoid the question (and the answer), while others turn to denial. Others become angry and it causes them to turn against God, feeling that God cannot be a loving God and caring God if things like this happen and continue to happen. Some simply run away and hide!
Walking through life after pain is a balancing act between faith and despair. Painful experiences often trigger spiritual questions. And so, we must ask ourselves, again, "Where do we go when we get angry at God'"
The answer to that question is as numerous as the number of readers for this paper. But, perhaps the bottom line is this: We can choose to isolate ourselves, turning inward into our pain and suffering, or we can keep going and going until we again meet up with God and realize that even in the midst of our suffering God was there.
All of us know very well the "Chain of Command." In a spiritual sense, may I suggest that God intends for us to be in a circle of relationship rather than a chain of command' Young reminds us that when we choose independence over relationship, we become a danger...And so, instead of choosing the danger of isolation when pain comes, perhaps we could learn to pray this prayer from an unkown author'
"Let me be aware.
Stab my soul fiercely with others' pain,
Let me walk seeing the horror and stain.
Let my hands, groping, find other hands.
Give me the heart that divines, understands.
Give me the courage, wounded, to fight.
Flood me with knowledge, drench me in light.
Please-keep me eager to do my share.
Lord God, let me be aware."
Where is God when pain comes'
A heart that feels others' pain, a hand that holds others' hands, and a spirit that will not surrender...is it possible that is where God is'