Jesus says He is thirsty in John 19:28. Pastor Ed painted a compelling picture of Jesus’ agony that corresponds to this utterance in the weekend’s message, #6 in the Voice: 7 Statements of Victory sermon series. In reflection I thought of thirsting, pain and God’s sovereignty in all matters of life which lead me to consider people who say they are atheists. I have not done research on this and I do not know if there are studies examining what brings a person to a personal position of atheism but I do have an opinion based on my observations and conversations.
Yes there are those who by thoughtful reasoning, philosophical study, and choice of moral assumptions have logically concluded holding a worldview without God is correct. In contrast I have found that most people who assert an atheistic world view have struggled with the problem of pain. A most difficult life situation, a tragic loss, death of a loved one, or a continual course of disappointments are the roots of their atheism. I can picture their cry of “how could a loving and just God allow my child to die or I prayed for my spouse’s sobriety and he never changed.” This pain eventually leads to “there must not be a God” or I would venture to guess more likely the sentiment of “I don’t want anything to do with such a callous God.” Explaining or answering the problem of pain to a broken heart is a monumental challenge. I think this is one place where logic, theological or philosophical, is not the best tool to repair that broken heart and replace atheism with a belief in a loving God.
It is clear from John’s Gospel account of the crucifixion; Jesus experienced unimaginable pain both physical and relational. This is not to say in the context of this blog post “of course we have pain because even God’s Son suffered and why should we be exempt” but to offer the truth that Jesus understands and knows human pain. This leads me to conclude the better tool to use is personal connection – forming relationship, active listening and eventually sharing our story. There were many times I have been comforted in my sorrow because another patiently listened and understood then eventually told of their similar travail with God’s sovereign touch bringing them through. It is no wonder 2 Corinthians 1:3 opens with Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. Connecting with a BOP Atheist (Because of Pain) may open their heart in an instant or more likely take a season of time or even a life time. There are many souls around us yearning to have their thirst quenched. God continually asks, “who will go for Me?” I pray I will be a pipeline for the living water of Jesus Christ or at least a Dixie cup.