Confrontation at the Shoe Shine Stand.

“My childhood was stolen from me” she said. “I was 8years old when my uncle raped me.” I sat in stunned silence as the 50 year old woman whipped the cloth across the leather of my boots. Without looking up she persisted, “I hope he’s in Hell.” Shocked, I simply muttered, “I’m sorry.”
“Pastor, why something like that happen to an 8 year old girl.” I looked at her and quietly said, “sin.” Confident my one word answer was inadequate, I attempted to elucidate. “You see, mankind has chosen to shake his first in the face of an Almighty God and has chosen the way of wickedness over the way of truth. I’m sorry, it is sin that makes men do such horrific things.” We talked at length about the wickedness in this world and the righteousness of Christ. Finally I felt the need to say, “mam, there is no answer I can give you that will satisfy your heart. The only thing we can be sure of is that God is just and good, Jesus can restore, and God will do justice. Trust Him… He is good and he can heal your heart. He will be a Father to you.”

This world is so dark.

In “The Attributes of God” by A. W. Tozer, he recounts a story of a starving 60 year old man and is starving 6 year old child. The pair walk into an orphanage. Upon entrance the man said to the attendant, “I want you to take my child.” The worker told the man as kindly as he could that, because of the enormous amount of orphans they cannot take children whose parents are still alive. The father looked at the attendant and said, “you mean if I were dead, you’d feed and cloth my girl.” The attendant said, “yes sir.” The father then knelt down and hugged his daughter, kissed her face. He rose to his feet took the hand of his daughter and placed it into the hand of the attendant and said, “I’ll take care of that, you take care of her.” He turned around and left the building and committed suicide to save the life of his daughter

This world is so dark.

The Father of Heaven and Earth has seen the darkness in this world and is answering in the name of Jesus Christ. There is restoration in the Kingdom of God for the broken, there is justice for the victim, there is life for the dead. There is life because God has taken care of the debt required to to clothe and shelter us. There is hope because God has redeemed all who would believe. The light will one day resolve all injustice and even now is overcoming the darkness. On that day, we will find the joy of The Lord. Darkness will be gone, wrongs forgotten, justice will be done, and mercy will be given.

I never really know how to answer these direct questions. Most of the time I remain silent. (some of you probably think I should have done so at the shoe shine booth.) My theological answers conflict with my pastoral heart. I find myself wanting to hug the person and to tell them everything will be ok while simultaneously wanting to show them the truth about theology, confident that the knowledge of God brings greater comfort than a hug. So I stagger about trying to offer some sort of combined answer that will provide the comfort necessary to ease the pain and the theology necessary to process it. Mostly I feel inadequate. But, God is never inadequate and He knows how to answer us in the deepest hurts we can imagine. So rest in the truth that God goes before you and He can take your flawed answers and move the souls of men.

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