Friday, 3 April 2015
I have known two babies born with badly deformed hearts. Both suffered pain and distress and went through a long series of major operations, without a great chance of success. So far, both have made it through: they are battlers. In their short lives they have known far more than their fair share of suffering, but they have also known much joy and love.
Should they have been put down at birth, or even before? I suspect most of us would strongly feel they should be given their chance at life, although some high-profile figures might disagree. Somehow life is important and its quality depends on more than just lack of pain and life's significance lies in more than just its length.
Good Friday is a day when Christians remember the suffering and death of Jesus, we believe for the sake of the world, so that all who put their trust in him may have fullness of life, forever.
I think this has relevance to the suffering that goes on in the world; although no way would I claim a complete answer to this venerable question (recently brought up by Stephen Fry and treated by the media as if it were a new thought).
Why do we live in a world where children are born with deformed hearts? I don't know, but I do believe that their lives matter, and that surrounding them with all the love we can matters, and that their parents are heroes who should be celebrated.
Why do we live in such a world? One answer is that God is either incompetent (or at least not omnipotent) or evil. This is slack logic: these may be two options, but they are not the only two. One other that strikes me is that any alternative may be worse.
Why did the parents of these babies allow them to go through such distress? Because they believed that their lives mattered, and they did whatever they could to allow their child every chance to experience life and love and joy. They could have wiped the slate clean and started again, but they chose not to. That individual baby mattered.
Our lives matter to God: that we find love and joy and meaning is, I believe, his priority. Rather than wiping the slate of the world clean, he gave his son to live with us and to die for us, so that we might have every chance to find that love, joy and fulfilment. Every loving parent knows that there is a price to be paid for their love; sometimes that price is hard to bear. God, through Jesus, paid the highest price, because he loves us and because our lives matter to him.
There may be all sorts of other reasons for the suffering in this world. I don't know, I am not God. But I do know that faith is about trust.
I trust that God is good and loving, and that life is in him. And life matters.