If you were to ask me why I doubt, I suppose I would tell you a story about a baby as well. A couple whom I have known for a long time had a beautiful little daughter. She was the kind of child who was so beautiful that people would stop them on the street to comment on her beauty. They were the kind of parents you would hope every child might have.
They had a pool in their backyard.
One summer day it was so nice outside that the mom set up the playpen in the backyard so that her daughter could enjoy the day. The phone rang, and her daughter was in the playpen, so she went in to answer the phone. Her daughter tugged on the wall of that playpen, and the hinge that held the side up gave way. It didn’t have to. God could have stopped it. God could have reached down from heaven and straightened it out and kept that playpen up. He didn’t. The hinge gave way, and the side came down, and the baby crawled out, and heaven was silent.
When that mom came outside, she saw the beautiful little body of her beloved daughter at the bottom of that pool. It was the beginning of a pain that no words could name. She would have died if doing so could have changed that one moment. But she could not. She would have to live. The memory of how old her daughter would be would have to haunt her every birthday and every Christmas and on the day she would have graduated from high school. That mom would live with the emptiness, the guilt, the blame, and the aloneness.
When that little baby left this world, she left behind a world that was God-silent.
Dostoyevsky, who was a believer, wrote that the “death of a single infant calls into question the existence of God.”1 But of course death has not restricted itself to just one infant. Elie Wiesel tells of his first night in a concentration camp and seeing a wagonload of babies driven up. They were unloaded and thrown into a ditch of fire. “Never shall I forget . . . the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. . . . Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.”
This is our world. I don’t know all the right responses to resolve these issues, but I know some of the wrong ones.
John Ortberg, Know Doubt: Embracing Uncertainty in Your Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014).
We have just released a new Bible study on topic of Answers to Tough Questions.
These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.