On a day much like any other, I was with two good friends, riding in the backseat of a truck, singing along to a song we were playing too loud to be healthy. In a sudden blur of color, two (probably modified) sports cars screamed past us in the middle and rightmost lanes going a hundred and something miles an hour. I couldn’t tell if they were racing, or just going fast because they felt obligated on account of all the money they’d spent to be able to. You see stuff like this on highways all the time, so I thought nothing of it and kept singing.
I wasn’t looking at the road when my friend in the driver’s seat gasped — I’m talking about an honest, stage-worthy gasp — and turned the music all the way down. I leaned forward, squeezing my shoulders between the front two seats, and looked out through the windshield. Something glowed bright in the distance, casting a soft light on the road in front of us. A fiery mushroom cloud erupted from a car and billowed at least a hundred feet into the air before caving in on itself. It was like a handheld nuke had gone off. It’s strange what goes through your head in moments like that. I remember thinking it was strange to see something so bright and so orange late at night. And on a highway where typically your view is comprised of long stretches of dark road. It’s like your brain takes a moment to process things like that — things that just aren’t supposed to happen. Eventually it seemed to understand: explosion.
We were going to stop, but there were already loads of cars parking on the side of the road. We called 911, and as we rolled slowly by the scene, we saw the car still immersed in that relentless inferno like some metallic bonfire, the driver’s side door blown off and laying on the side of the road beside a flaming tire. I knew immediately that I had just witnessed someone die.
We looked the story up in the news later. The kid was seventeen. And so, even though I believe in a perfect God, my question then was this: “How can there be a good God in a world where this happens?”
I think it’s healthy to question what you believe every now and then — to ask difficult, uncomfortable questions. I do find myself asking why a perfect, benevolent God would allow such tragedies to occur. In fact, one of the most popular arguments against the existence of God is the existence of evil. How can God allow these things to exist? If he’s all powerful, why did he not prevent evil from ever entering the world in the first place? Better yet, why does he allow evil to exist as a construct, as a concept? If it didn’t exist, surely it could never have entered the world. If you think I’m here to answer those questions, you’d be wrong. There are folks far smarter than me who devote their lives to studying these issues and formulating logical answers; there’s no use in me trying to stumble around forming a theological explanation. I do think that there are people out there who have delivered pretty sound explanations as to why God and evil exist. And I do believe that there are answers. But there’s a problem with having all the answers, anyway.
Once you know everything there is to know about everything, you have entirely removed wonder from the world, and you have abolished the need for faith. If there is nothing I don’t know, not a question I can’t answer, then why do I need God? Why do I need faith? I don’t. The thing is, there’s actually some stuff I don’t know — quite a bit, really —you could call it a lot and it wouldn’t be a stretch, I don’t think. I don’t have all the answers, and neither does anyone else, nor anyone past, nor anyone to come. It wouldn’t be called faith if we had all the answers. Not everyone will agree with me, and some may even despise me, but I’m choosing to believe. Not because I think it’s the most logical decision (even though it may be) but because I’ve felt the peace, love, and joy that I believe only God can provide in this world that so often feels broken down and rusted over, malicious and sadistic in its intent. In the end, I feel Jon Foreman described it pretty well when he said, “I think both faith and doubt are equally logical responses in the face of tragedy. Faith is to say, ‘Yes the future will have pain. But there is a meaning and a purpose deeper than that pain.’ For me, that is my choice: to believe rather than doubt.”
Sam Skipper is a university senior studying English and Creative Writing. He hopes to graduate within the year and pursue a possible career teaching high school English. While he is furthering his education, he spends his remaining hours working part-time, staying active in his church, and doing absolutely nothing with his friends. Sam enjoys the beach, traveling, camping, and hiking among many other things, but he values his relationship with Christ, his friends, and his family most of all. He lives in Jacksonville, Florida with his mom, dad, and brother.
Amanda Williams is a forty-year old wife and mother of two who can still swing her pony tail and display just a tad of sass. She is also a Jesus loving girl who realizes she is nothing without the One who saved her. Amanda has two degrees specializing in serving students with special needs and is currently working in the field of Leadership Development. She is a Christian author, speaker, blogger, and publisher who loves serving beside her husband at her local place of worship, First Baptist Church of Ocala.