my God, you better be ready when i come
and stand before you face to face at last
because you know how many questions i have for you
and you know the very first that will
burst from my lips will be
why did you conceive and birth a world
roiling with so much pain?
why did you make human beings
capable of such atrocities?
why did you make our skin so frail, our stomachs
so prone to hunger and thirst, our minds
so quick to judge and scheme and place ourselves first?
and why, why do you seem to watch passively
as we raze forests into barren dust
as we pour poison into rivers
as we tear flesh from each other’s bodies with our teeth??
…i don’t know, yet. but when i think of you
cradled in the arms of a single mother with calloused brown hands
and of you
walking miles between towns to bring healing on tired feet,
your stomach eating itself with hunger, your tongue parched
and of you
being nailed to a cross
by hands that have shed their compassion for gain
as you cry out “my God, why! why have you forsaken me!”
…then, i feel a little better.
i still do not understand
but i trust.
i trust because you do not watch us suffer from
some lofty throne high above
wherever a child sobs with hunger
a woman aches with grief
a whole community is being trampled into the mud
you are there. your face is tear-tracked too. your wrists
and feet and torso bear wounds, too.
so i question, constantly.
and i will demand answers. but also, i trust you.
my hope is in you.
Originally published in The Kin-dom in the Rubble. If you use this piece, please credit it to Avery Arden and link this website. I also invite you to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know how you’re using it!
About this poem: If we learn nothing else from scripture, it’s that God welcomes our questions and difficult emotions. And a common question with which we all wrestle is the question of why good people suffer while those who do wrong seem to thrive – see Psalm 73, the Book of Job, and this post for more on what theologians term “theodicy,” the place of God in suffering.