In a remarkable piece of popular journalism, Newsweek magazine has chronicled Army Chaplain Roger Benimoff's experiences of faith, doubt and anger with God in the Iraq war. Gentle reader Guy Named Courtney commended the piece to SWNID, telling us that reading it is "like looking in the mirror."
Ironically enough, while reading this piece, we received a phone call from another CCU student, slated to graduate next week, who just received word of redeployment to the Iraqi battlefield. He spoke with eloquence of the trials he experiences as his life is turned upside down yet again, and of how such trials are shaping his knowledge of God.
Benimoff's experience is that the God in whom he once believed does not survive the battlefield. Death, injury, loneliness, and despair do not comport well with a widely held view--one might condescendingly call it a naive view--of how God protects his people. That kind of protection wasn't the experience of the prophets or the psalmists, and it wasn't the experience of Jesus and his followers. They had death, injury, loneliness and despair.
But arguing with God, being angry with God, and hating God--the kind of things believers do when they face the awfulness of things like war--are very different from not believing in God, which is largely expressed by indifference. These saints of the battlefield probably know better than the rest of us the kind of sweat and blood that really constitute the walk with God to which we are called. It is, after all, a cross that Jesus bids us take up as we follow him.
SWNID, whose life has been benignly sheltered, is most glad to know those who face the terror of an evil world and who in anger still cling to the promise of God's love even when they see no sign of it in the circumstances that surround them. We thank those people for the way they challenge us to know the God of the Cross better than we do today, and not just for the burden they bear to protect the liberty and safety of others.