Theodicy’s Hope

Nickles was right,
I think,
in his succinct word,
an embittered expression
spoken from the Job-ian depths of sorrow’s weight
and piercing to the marrow
of theodicy’s painstaking question:

Job and His Friends (1869), Ilya Yefimovich Repin (1844-1930)

“If God is God, He is not good,
If God is good, He is not God…”

For how can (is) it (able to) be
that evil and suffering,
the evil of suffering,
hath found so permanent a habitation
in this creation –
as dreamed in the Mind of the Omnipotent Master,
as clay, deemed precious, formed by the Hand of the Benevolent Potter,
as dust, the stuff of the stars, shaped to reflect the imago Dei
and into which Spirit-Breath imparted (making whole) living souls?

The Creation of Adam (Creazione di Adamo) (1512), Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (1475-1564)

Souls who, so made, from the beginning,
hath believed in the existence of justice;
yet who, from the dawn of time,
their cries upward bounding (battering) Heaven’s Gate
hath viewed under earthen veil so (too) little fairness.

Souls who, thus, hath come to know
that Heaven is to dream of what oft is not seen
and that Hell is to see what alway hath been.

Yet theodicy, as Job, daring to doubt God’s providence,
aye, God’s existence,
by its very question bares the seed of hope.
For, as the Apostle saith:
“Hope that is seen is not hope.
For who hopes for what is seen?
But if we hope for what we do not see,
we wait for it with patience.”


(1) Nickles is a character in J. B. a play in verse (Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1956) by Archibald MacLeish (1892-1982); a 20th century contextual retelling of the biblical Job story.
(2) The quote, “If God is God…He is not God”, page 14
(3) “Hope that is seen is not hope…we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8.24-25)

Job and His Friends (1869), Ilya Yefimovich Repin (1844-1930)

The Creation of Adam (1512), Michelangelo (1475-1564)

2 thoughts on “Theodicy’s Hope

  1. Very thought-provoking Paul!! Hoping for what is not seen…. it sure does require not only a lot of patience, but also a lot of faith! I love the theme of hope that’s been running through your recent blog posts! We need hope these days now more than ever!

    Much love!


  2. Hope. Yes, always, I think…I feel…I believe, we need hope – that ability and willingness to anticipate something grand that, given what hope is, is yet to be. Indeed, something grand that, as it is yet to be, may not be real, but, for now, only imagined. Yet, it is this power to imagine something grand, even and especially in the face of all this is real that is not grand, that makes hope so necessary. And sometimes I imagine how incredible hope is especially for those – for example, enslaved people who longed for freedom, but died in captivity – who hoped, yet never realized in this life and world that for which they hoped. Nevertheless, they still were able and willing to dream. Thus, their living and dying testimony to the power of hope is, for me, a sign of hope!

    And, as for this bit of poetry, I imagined, through the lens of theodicy that wrestles with the reality of evil and suffering in the light of an omnipotent and benevolent God, daring to ask, “How can this be!”, a pathway of hope. For theodicy’s question – that is, the very fact that theodicy dares to ask of God, “why?”, and dares, in that very question to wonder about God’s existence – is a witness to the ability and willingness to dream about something grand – in theodicy’s case, the elimination or, at least, the amelioration of evil and suffering – amidst all that is not grand.

    Love you


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