July 13, 2020 - Nonsense

A woman who taught creative writing to children dying of cancer had written: “The children I write with die,” she begins, “no matter how much I love them, no matter how creative they are, no matter how many poems they have written, or how much they want to live.” Then, she added, “I was, like everybody else, trying to make sense of what is nonsensical.”

Nonsensical. That is, none of it makes sense. It cannot be rationally explained. There’s no good reason for it. And yet isn’t it better that evil (and children dying of cancer is evil) be nonsensical and not rational, logical, nor explicable? Otherwise, what? Good, logical and harmonious reasons exist why these kids lose limbs, suffer the trauma of chemo, endure horrific pain, sit in the hospital for years, and then die? Please—if there were good reasons, who would want to know them?

However bad these tragedies, it would be worse if there were sense to them. But there’s not. That’s why it’s all nonsense. That’s why we can’t understand them or make sense of them. If we could understand it, if it made sense, if it fit into some logical and rational plan then it wouldn’t be that evil, it wouldn’t be that tragic because it serves a rational purpose, and who dares, for instance, to lessen the evil and tragedy of children dying of cancer?

In the end, in light of the cross, in light of the fact that the Creator of all that exists, the Lord Himself, entered humanity and in that humanity bore our sin in our stead—in light all this, the goodness and holiness and justice of God will stand vindicated before men and angels, and “every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God” (Romans 14:11). But theodicy, a theological term that means the justification of God in the face of evil, is just that: the justification of God, not of evil.

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