I confess, I’m a sucker for a good British movie or TV show. They’re slower in pace and seemingly more deliberate than most American fare. A few years ago, I watched Foyle’s War, about a detective in the post World War II era. I was impressed with how the writer conveyed the gradual, but not so subtle move of British society away from God. A recent viewing of The Doctor Blake Mysteries presents the same reality, though from the Australian perspective.
Why does war lead people to abandon faith? What happened to “there are no atheists in foxholes?”
I’ve been pondering this thought of late, as I’m bombarded with global commentary on the most recent “war” we’re facing — The COVID-19 Pandemic.
Could it be that those “believers in the moment,” when crying out to God in the hard times, cease to believe when the battle’s been won, because evil still exists all around them?
For the one who knows Christ and knows God’s Word, there is the understanding of evil that started with the Fall in Genesis and runs throughout the pages of Scripture. It is the reason, along with God’s love, that Christ had to come and die. Not only would his sacrifice bring the redemption of man from the hold of sin, but ultimately a transformation of the fallen world as we know it. In Christ “all things are made new.”
Yet, in the wise words of a famous matchmaker, “in the meantime, we suffer. We suffer in silence, but we suffer.”*
Still, why the pain, why the suffering, why the death, disease, hatred, violence and war?
Though the television series show us the reality of a society which has lost faith, there are several writers who speak powerfully on what God can be saying to us about it all.
C.S. Lewis, who has so many excellent books on this topic, wrote in The Problem of Pain in 1940:
God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.
When I think about the nature of even just American society prior to the two World Wars, I think of degradation and a loss of values. The war should have roused the world to evil and the need for God, but in many cases, it did just the opposite.
Eric Metaxas, in writing of the times in which Bonhoeffer lived, said this:
The utter evilness of evil now showed itself clearly, and it showed up the bankruptcy of man’s so-called ethical attempts to deal with it…The solution is to do the will of God, to do it radically and courageously and joyfully.*
The “secular” society has invaded the church, whitewashing the message of the Gospel, that first has to do with our sin nature and then with grace. A society without God will turn on itself.
Author and speaker Ravi Zacharias in his book, Why Suffering, wrote:
We want to hold God accountable to our notion of good, but we want to do away with the notion of evil and be accountable to nobody. We use our freedom to try to free ourselves from the very One who gives us our freedom. We want the gift without the giver. The symptom of evil remains — suffering — but we expunge the cause of evil — our own responsibility.*
The one who prays in the trench of trouble wants his notion of God to do what he sees as good in the moment, but then ignores him in every other moment of life along with any role he might play for the troubles in the first place.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who died at the hands of the Nazis in World War II, wrote:
Death reveals that the world is not as it should be but that it stands in need of redemption. Christ alone is the conquering of death.*
We grow complacent in our self-absorbed lives, and then a loved-one dies or a natural disaster strikes. In Christ alone, can we persevere through such times, knowing, there is more to this life.
Ultimately, it is G. K. Chesterton, who asks the tough question we should pose to those who have turned from God or blame him for the troubles of our day:
When belief in God becomes difficult, the tendency is to turn away from him — but in heaven’s name to what?*
What relief does humanism, philosophy, yoga, atheism or nihilism bring you? What hope does it offer?
Yes, the world is a tough place to live sometimes. There are troubles in this life. People do evil. Wars destroy. Death is a reality for us all.
Christ is our only hope, because in him we know this life is not all there is. There is a much better place waiting.
Where will you turn? Choose wisely.
Grace and Peace
*Fiddler on the Roof. Yenta was the matchmaker.
*Metaxas, Eric. Bonhoeffer, Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010. p. 471.
Zacharias, Ravi and Vince Vitale. Why Suffering. NY: FaithWords, 2014.
*Metaxas, p. 384.
Zacharias and Vitale, p. 29.