The Vulnerability of God (#885)

If God shares our suffering with us, what does that say about the vulnerability of God to humanity? That's a question Kyle had left over after our last podcast, so he and Wayne go down that rabbit hole. Did God's love make him vulnerable to humans? That leads to a host of other questions. If he shares our pain, how can we find comfort in him if he's somehow allowing it or at least not fixing it? Warning: this conversation uses the deep end of the pool to contemplate the comfort of God in the throes of human suffering. Could God ever say to us, "I am sorry you're going through this," if he could stop it and doesn't?

Podcast Notes:


  1. Wayne !
    I’ve been enjoyed your podcasts for 15 years now… they put me to sleep 🙂
    (That is, I listen to all podcasts in bed at night).

    This one digs deep into important theo-logy, i.e. what we really think about God.
    Your discussion with Kyle was great, though I felt you didn’t really answer the BIG question:
    ‘Could God ever say to us, “I am sorry you’re going through this,” if he could stop it and doesn’t?’

    A little book I’ve found helpful is “God Can’t – How to Believe in God and Love after Tragedy, Abuse, and Other Evils” by Thomas J. Oord.

    This author says that God’s love is inherently uncontrolling.
    God loves everyone and everything, so God can’t control anyone or anything.
    This means God cannot prevent evil single-handedly.
    God can’t stop evildoers, whether human, animal, organisms, or inanimate objects and forces.

    Oord gives a plausible reason why some are healed but many others are not
    God always works to heal everyone, but sometimes our bodies, organisms, or other creatures do not cooperate with God’s healing work. Or the conditions of creation are not right for the healing God wants to do.

    Some people think God causes or allows suffering to teach us lessons or build our character. This guy disagrees. He reckons that God squeezes good from the evil God didn’t want in the first place.
    God uses pain and suffering without willing or even allowing it.

    Wayne, what do you think?

    Ray Salisbury
    Teabag Reclamation Officer
    Galactic Management Associates
    Victory, Nelson, New Zealand

    • Hi Ray. Thanks for your comment and book recommendation. I haven’t read it, so hate to comment on his conclusions since they are second-hand, to begin with. I do love the last paragraph here about God squeezing good from the evil he doesn’t want. I like that. I like saying God “makes use” of pain rather than him using it, but that’s just my own hang-up on terminology. I find the conclusion that God is always working to heal but there are conditions that aren’t quite right, to ping my yuck meter a bit. I keep coming back to the idea that we are trying to make logically human conclusions about the ways God acts when he is working in a very different dimension. Trying to understand HIS logic from our perspective is like a one-year-old child trying to grasp why Mom and Dad do what they do. We just don’t have the resources to grasp it, which makes it all the more important for us to simply “follow him” and trust that he has it all figured out in ways we can’t conceive.

  2. Wow! So real, so helpful. I really appreciate your skills in language, both of you, the ability to put into words such difficult concepts which we all struggle with. Thank you.

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