The dangers of grief are many. You may not think of grief as being dangerous but it most certainly is. Charles Darwin reminds me of the dangers of grief gone wrong. The fact that Darwin rejected Christianity is commonly known, but what is not so well known is why he did. The painful death of his young daughter Annie may have been the culprit. According to biographers Adrian Desmond and James Moore in their book Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist, "Annie's cruel death destroyed Charles's tatters of belief in a moral, just universe. Later he would say that this period chimed the final death-knell for his Christianity."
Arguably, the most destructive philosophy in modern history took shape in the heart of a hurting and grieving man. Darwin's grief would not be satisfied with platitudes, nor should it have been. Yet something turned in him with which I think I can sympathize. A deep sense of injustice often stalks the grieving. Yet if you listen to those who are most virulent in their attack on faith and in particular the Christian faith, you will hear something like this: "How can a good God, or how can an all powerful God, allow such innocent people to suffer?" The implication is that either God is not powerful or maybe He is not so good, if He exists at all.
I admit that I have often been put in a defensive posture upon hearing such statements. When I read of Charles Darwin's loss my heart sympathized with him. For the first time in all the years I have known of this man and frankly despised his destructive invention of an explanation of our existence without God, I felt compassion for him. Then I felt sadness because of one man’s struggle with grief that turned to anger. I have no way of knowing if Darwin was visibly angry, but his theory of evolution is very angry. It concludes that there must not be a God, or he cannot be loving, or he must not have enough power to stop the pervasive nature of death, so what good is he? Darwin then proceeded to write not so much an origin of the species but an explanation of life without God.
This concept has taken hold of modern mankind, and with it some truly devastating result have followed. Millions have died because of Darwin's idea that only the fit survive. In countries that choose to live out Darwin's conclusion and establish atheism, the numbers are staggering. In excess of 50 million have been tortured and killed by the "fittest" who had their hands on the controls. Religious people have also taken lives in their very real and depraved grasp for power, yet even the Inquisition would be hard pressed to match the 20th Century’s record of death. Others took these concepts to justify their illogical conclusions and gassed Jews, exterminated their opposition, destroyed the weak and infirmed, in the gruesome acts of living out the survival of the fittest.
The thought that haunts me is that this all happened because a man grieved, and his grief turned to anger, and his anger turned to unbelief, and that turned to hopelessness. We get to choose what we do with our grief. It feels like grief sits in the driver’s seat of our lives, and for a while it may; but in fact we get to choose what we focus upon, what conclusions we draw, and where our anger takes us.
Does God have a good answer for grief's nagging questions? I believe God's answer came, but in a surprising form. He sent his one and only Son, and he gave him a unique name. "The word became flesh and dwelled among us..." (John 1:14 NIV). God's answer was the Word becoming flesh and giving us Himself, not a glib answer to satisfy our intellect but to satisfy the problem of death, suffering and evil. Our God got close, so close that he could hurt and bleed. He refused to remain distant. Thomas, the disciple of Jesus, suffering great grief, declared that he would not believe unless he could see and touch the scars of Jesus, then found himself invited by Jesus to feel his wounds, touch his scars and believe.
Stop. What kind of God has scars? Only a God who is willing to get close enough to hurting people that they could hurt him. These are the scars of crucifixion, another depraved human invention. Why was he crucified? For you and me. He came near because that is the only way to help hurting people.
The question of suffering is hard, profound and consequential. Struggle with it carefully. Struggle with it valiantly, but ask the God of grace to help your anger; hurt and let your suffering rest at the nail-scarred feet of Jesus. Grief is dangerous, but equal to the danger is the possibility of knowing the God who created, sustains and loves you. The only wise God who came near and suffered with great purpose, to end deaths power once and for all.