Today one of my colleagues, who is fairly outspokenly atheist, restated his position, with the justification that his wife's battle with cancer confirmed his opposition to God: how could a loving, good God allow bad things to happen?
It was hard to have an answer for him. I had shared my chapel message with him, and he basically was saying he disagreed. He sees suffering as proof that God doesn't exist. That's a pretty hard position to change.
As I went for a run over lunch, God pointed out to me things I've learned from parenting.
Sometimes my kids suffer because of their decisions. Negative behaviors have negative consequences...even if it means that sometimes I have to create negative consequences so the behavior isn't repeated.
Sometimes they suffer because of someone else's decisions. A sad part of life is someone else's bad decision leads to lost privileges.
Sometimes they suffer because that's the way the world works. If you're playing a game and there is a winner, there is probably also a loser...and you're not going to win every time.
Sometimes they suffer because it's part of how they learn. Many times I've JUST finished a warning of a consequence to an action, and the consequence happens.
I could rescue my from their suffering, and often I do. I don't let Hope eat the legos, because it would be potentially deadly. But if I want them to learn and develop character, I have to let it happen.
It doesn't mean that I don't care. If anything, the opposite--my heart breaks as much or more than theirs. When bad things happen, I want to gather them into my arms and comfort them. And when you see them succeed, it's better than succeeding themselves.
So while I'm incredibly grateful for my three wonderful children, I'm also thankful for the opportunity to be a parent. My colleague never had children, so I'm not sure he'd get the analogies, but I sure do.