I hadn’t come across this story before but Kate McCann has written a book about the abduction of her daughter, Madeline, and how that experience challenged her faith in God.
“I do not blame God for Madeleine’s abduction. The abductor is responsible for that.
“What I do wrestle with though, is the inexplicable fact that despite so many prayers, almost total global awareness, and a vast amount of hard work, we still do not have an answer.
“My aunt quotes a saying, ‘Pray as if everything depends on God. Work as if everything depends on you’, and I truly believe that is what we’ve done.
“Thousands of other people, maybe millions, have prayed. So if Madeleine is alive, why hasn’t God brought her back to us?
“If she is not, surely He could lead us to the truth and put a stop to the terrible anguish of not knowing?
“What do we have to do, how long do we have to wait, until He tells us something? Anything?”
She added: “I’ve found it hard to understand the further awful experiences that have come our way. How can so much suffering and injustice be heaped upon one family?
“It is said that God only gives you a cross He knows you can bear. Well I’m afraid this cross has been far too heavy for far too long.”
I don’t like the story of Job.
Job is set up as a righteous believer at the start. Satan suggests that God’s protecting him somehow and that’s the only reason his faith can be that strong. God agrees to test Job’s faith, allowing Satan to make his life a living hell to see if he’ll crack under pressure.
In the story, Job starts off well off financially with seven sons and three daughters. He loses all of his possessions and all of his kids die tragically in a house collapse. Job’s justifiably upset at the loss but doesn’t rail against his god over it. Not good enough proof, unfortunately. An arrangement is made to do more to him, to torture him nearly to the point of death. His wife thinks he should curse god and die rather than endure all the burns and boils but he refuses. His friends come around, see the pain he’s in and assume he’s done something to deserve it. Job assures them that he has not, but never gets to the point of cursing god for his troubles, just the day he was born for some reason. God hears this business, does some chastising of all of them, avoids mentioning his own role in this game (only the readers learn of the arrangement made beforehand), and then Job is rewarded with brand new better children (because kids are interchangeable like goldfish) and more wealth than he had before. There. All fixed.
To me, the lesson to take from this is that God lacks trust in his faithful and is something of a bastard. But McCann still believes he knows what he’s doing in her case and will leave him to it.
Mrs McCann admits that, despite the torment she has faced, she held on to her faith and believes that Madeleine is in God’s care.
She said: “For the most part I try my best to accept that it is not for me to question His plan. Maybe I just need to be patient and trust Him.
“There is one thing of which I am confident: I believe wherever Madeleine is, God is with her.
“And in my calmer moments, I also believe that in God’s time we’ll get there.”
Well, I suppose it’s better than sitting around imagining all the things the abductor might have done to her daughter (or her remains if that’s the case). I can’t imagine the stress and horror a family deals with when a child goes missing. Cope how you can, even if it means holding onto the belief that it’s all part of some bigger divine (desired?) arrangement. Beats me how that can be reassuring in this case. Are we supposed to pray that God will reward her long suffering at some point by giving her a new and better kid, too? Will that fix it?