It´s midnight in the garden of good and evil.
You are here to meet with God. You have questions that you want answered. Adam and Eve have just been thrown out of the garden and evil has taken hold of the world. How could he let this happen?
He’s over there by those two trees. Go and talk to him. You can just see his form there in the shadows.
The desert can be a forbidding place. Bedouins survive there, scorpions and snakes, thorns and thistles thrive. Water is scarce, the sun intense and the wind irritating. Temperatures often plunge below zero at night and predators lurk in the darkness.
Of course, there are many different types of deserts and some are harsher than others but, any way you look at it, a desert experience will be one of scarcity, loneliness and difficulty.
For many people, that also would describe life – or at least their life. Scarcity, loneliness and difficulty characterize the lives of the majority of people on planet earth, even in this modern age. Even the experience of plenty (instead of scarcity) in the context of friends and family (instead of loneliness) and in the comfort and convenience of our own homes (instead of difficulty) can be invaded by disease, accidents and painful suffering. One of the great mysteries of life is the existence of evil and the seemingly blind, amoral forces of life that affect the just and the unjust alike. And these are not mere words. Lives are lost, suffering is inflicted on children and the innocent, relationships are broken. Life hurts. We live in the matrix of a paradox. Both paradise and paradise lost. Both desert and promised land. Both good and evil. What goes on here?
Tears of the Desert Warrior attempts to give some perspective on this painful paradox and what, if anything, we can do about it. Above all, the idea is to stay real – not to minimize the horrible nature of what goes on in this life but also not to take lightly the answers that God has for us, difficult though they may be to accept. Not difficult because they are hard to understand but rather because His answers will force us to take a good, hard look at ourselves and our role in the tragedy that is this world. Yes, we need to talk to this divine being we call God, the Creator. We need to know who he is and what his role is in all of this, and ask him some hard questions.
No doubt. But be prepared.
He has some hard questions of his own.
You stop in your tracks, your questions dying on your lips. What’s going on here? You need time to think before you just barge into the presence of the Holy God, your Father, who created you.
Perhaps there is more to this than meets the eye.
Making sense of evil and unjust suffering is at the heart of God of the Desert Warrior. But if there is more to this than meets the eye, where do we get our information? How do we make sense of a God who weeps? Can he be responsible for the mess we are in or are we also to blame? Even if we are also responsible or even entirely responsible, can he (and will he) do anything about it? Does he care about my suffering, my pain? If so, why doesn’t he do something about it? He weeps, maybe, but does he also act?
We suspect that sooner or later we will have to talk to him. But before we do, let’s get some homework done. This is not an attempt at a complete and detailed study of the problem of evil and the biblical answers. There is even some honest doubt that such a study would answer all of the questions we have or whether knowing the answers is sufficient comfort in the face of real world, personal suffering and pain.
That is probably the most important thing to be said – that knowing the answers is a poor substitute for knowing and experiencing, personally, the God who died saving us from our own folly. Even though we may have to endure suffering, pain and evil for a time and for a purpose, the sting of death and the heat of the desert have been removed and replaced with a new, intimate walk with the God of the Desert and that is comfort enough for now.
Still, that is a conclusion easily made but not so easily believed or experienced. Let us start at the beginning and see where the path might lead us.
In Part One, The Tower of Babel, we will look at the problem of evil and unjust suffering, as well as the existence of God, from the perspective of philosophy and science. Many would claim that there is no God to go to and ask your questions. They have turned their backs on the God of history and metaphysics. Religion is about morality, nothing more (and some even question that).
A Desert Theology, to be honest, must start with the claims of reason that there is no one to answer our questions except ourselves. Point taken. Perhaps they are right, perhaps not. At the very least they will provide us with a counterpoint which we can use to compare and contrast our belief (if we so believe) in a personal God who weeps and acts.
Whether or not you agree with this perspective, hopefully God of the Desert Warrior will help you come to your own conclusions and lead you to discover a path through the desert of evil, suffering and sin to the promised land of intimate, real and practical trust in a God who weeps for you.
Tears of the Desert Warrior by Bert A. Amsing
Copyright © 2012 by vanKregten Publishers. All rights reserved.
Footnotes and references included in original manuscript.