Beckett: Poetry – No. 1676, God Only Knows

“Why does God permit suffering,”
the atheist asked me so.
I gave the honest answer,
“God only knows.”

“Aren’t you supposed to know why,”
he asked with an appeal.
Again, I answered honestly,
“We only know what God reveals.”

His eyes scrunched in confusion;
this was not the answer he wanted.
I could tell as he pondered,
this truth left him daunted.

“Aren’t Christians supposed to have all the answers?”
What fool spread such an absurd lie?
Once again, I answered truthfully,
“No; to God’s Word we merely comply.”

“Please, Pastor, what do you mean?”
Finally, an atheist with whom I can be heard.
“What God desires us to know,
He reveals in His Word.”

“What does God want us to know?”
He would find the answer puzzling,
but I told him nevertheless,
“God reveals Himself in suffering.”

This notion patently offended him.
As St. Paul said, the cross is foolish
to Gentiles who lack faith;
logic to fathom this proves useless.

“What do you mean,” he finally asked.
I could only point to the final sacrifice,
to which I told him,
“God shows who He is in Jesus Christ.

“That God would become a man
and for you suffer pain and death
shows the kind of God He is
that He would give His final breath.”

He looked down at his hands,
as if afraid to speak,
his logic too small
and his flesh too weak.

“So then, why do I suffer,” he asked,
returning to the question.
“It’s not suffering itself that’s bad,
but in Christ it comes to cessation.

“Today, you might suffer,
and tomorrow, too,
but no matter what you undergo,
one fact always remains true:

“Jesus suffered and died for you;
this means your pain will meet its end
when upon the clouds in the sky
you see Jesus Christ descend.

“Thus, today, when you do suffer,
there God will meet you.
This, all His people experience
and know to be true.

“He comforts how He chooses, —
and always through His Word, —
thus, let the Holy Spirit
to the Father bring you forward.”

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