(Thank you, dear Jo from Mylestones, for these words on 9/11, and the God who hates suffering…)
He asked if I knew about the towers falling down, did I remember and was I there. I slid the sliced apples onto his plate, prepared for snack time, but not for this. How had second grade social studies beat me to the telling?
“And the planes,” he said, “the planes flew into them and also the–I can’t remember how you say it–the petagron?”
“The Pentagon. Yes. That building was close to our old house. I remember, there were people from mommy’s work in the towers, and we spent the day trying to make sure they were all safe.”
“They were. But not everyone was safe. Many people died. And even though I didn’t know most of the people, it made me very sad.”
“I don’t know why the guys in the plane did that. My teacher said it was because they didn’t like how powerful America is and the towers rep’esented the powerfulness. But it still doesn’t really make sense.”
I opened my mouth to reply, racing ahead in thought to prepare a canned, scripturally backed answer about evil and the evil one, an answer I didn’t actually have. Perhaps now was the time to tell him how the towers prompted the war that took his daddy to Afghanistan, how it still wages on today?
“Vincent has a ton of Pokemon cards. More than you could even imagine. He brought them on the bus today and I was like ‘Whooaa’!”
Never (ever) have I been glad to hear the conversation shift to Pokemon. But there’s a first for everything.
It’s not that I didn’t want to talk to my son about the towers, the terrorists, the war. It’s that I didn’t know what to say, how to explain such senseless evil to a grown person, much less a seven year old. But isn’t evil in its very nature senseless, a piece in this fallen world’s puzzle that will never and should never fit within our human understanding?
My children had finished their snack, moved on to constructing a maze out of matchbox cars, when I picked up my copy of Christopher J.H. Wright’s The God I Don’t Understand. I thumbed back to the underlined places and read again.
“Evil is not there to be understood, but to be resisted and ultimately expelled. Evil was and remains an intruder, an alien presence that has made itself almost (but not finally) inextricably ‘at home’. Evil is beyond our understanding because it is not part of the ultimate reality that God in his perfect wisdom and utter truthfulness intends us to understand.”
Yes. I say it audibly, nod my head. I continue to read.
“So I am willing to live with the understanding that the God I don’t understand has chosen not to explain the origin of evil, but rather wants to concentrate my attention on what he has done to defeat and destroy it.”
And there it is, the answer I will tuck away for the next round of stump-mommy-at-snack-time.
The answer is that none of the evil, none of the suffering makes sense; and none of it ever should.
The answer is that all of it, all of the evil and all of the suffering will come to an end, destroyed forever.
And the final answer, the only answer that matters, the only answer that will ever make sense, is Jesus. It’s Jesus.