I was so sad when Meredith Emerson went missing in Georgia last week, especially since we all knew how it was going to turn out. I was sad when they found her body in the woods and when they arrested the man who led them to her. But I was horrified when I heard on the news this morning that she was alive for several days, until Friday, and that she was tortured before her death. It was even worse to hear that there were several close calls, sightings of the killer while he still had Meredith in the back of his van, alive.
Here's the thing I don't understand and no one wants to talk about. You know she was praying throughout her entire ordeal, begging for help. You know her parents and friends were praying. She was on every prayer list in Georgia and people all over the country were begging for her safe recovery.
Even as they were searching for her, my Sunday School lesson on Sunday was about how we can trust God in the new year because God rescues those who call out to him and rescues those who are in peril. I went out to lunch yesterday with a woman who heard my lesson and was so excited because God did JUST THAT VERY THING for her this week. I don't know how to wholeheartedly trust God because I don't know where he was this week while hundreds of people were looking thorugh the Georgia foothills for a young college girl, when just a tiny intervention--a subtle reminder in the mind of a waitress, a glimpse of recognition in the memory of a park ranger--would have brought Meredith home safely.
But then there's CNN and the photo of Meredith Emerson and her brokenhearted family. I constantly find myself resisting and challenging any theology that doesn't stand up to their experience this week. I've been told that my problems with the suffering in the world are overly dramatic. I've been chastised that "mature believers" don't ask those questions any more. I've been told that "everything happens for a reason, even if we don't know what it is right now." But if my theology doesn't work for a terrified young woman tied up in the back of a murder's van, it doesn't work.
So, I keep trusting but not unquestioningly and not wholeheartedly. I know people--people close to me--who don't have this anguish, who can trust "in spite of," who don't ask these questions. I know that I irritate them. But it just won't go away. I wish I had their faith. Once, when I told C that he has the gift of faith, he told me that I have the "gift of doubt." (He meant it in a good way.) This is a gift I'd like to give back.