You cannot reason your way from the world to a morally just and loving God. The world is through and through unjust and fundamentally tragic. Of course the world contains beauty and innocent pleasure and kindness in abundance, but they are flyspecks on the scale compared to its weight of brutality and grief and catastrophe and evil of endless variety. If clearheaded reason were our only guide to a final assessment, we must necessarily arrive at either madness or despair.

And neither does revelation change the reality of the world, although much of what people call ‘religion’ claims it does. The things that are horrors when there is no God remain horrors when there is. The grief of a mother over her dying child is indelible. It is a permanent element of reality. It is not lessened if the mother and child are reunited in some afterlife; it is simply succeeded by a new reality. Pain, sorrow and tragedy are real and, once real, eternal.

The essence of faith, the relationship God asks of us, is not the belief that God will somehow make things right. Wrong is never made right. The essence of the relationship God asks of us is summed up by Job: Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him. Though the world really is unjust and tragic, not just seemingly so, though no amount of apologetic will ever reduce its evil by the slightest weight, though all our attempts to defend God are really attempts to defend our own convictions, while God remains unfathomable, though every avenue of rational rescue is eliminated and I am utterly exhausted of hope…and then…and then…at the end of all justification…even though He slay me….

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