My father died of cancer and I cannot help but think that this is unfair. God is all powerful and could have prevented this. Can I forgive God for not allowing my dad to live?

I am presuming that the question-asker is a monotheistic believer. In other words, the question is coming from one of the Abrahamic traditions of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. The late Lewis Smedes in his popular book, Forgive and Forget, said that God is big enough to take your forgiveness and so if you are angry, then go ahead and forgive. While I am a great admirer of Dr. Smedes, I disagree with him on this one point. A holy and perfect God is a just God, incapable of injustice (not in God???s nature, in other words). If this is so, then our forgiving is actually a distortion because it looks as if God did something wrong. We should avoid this idea if we are to retain the historical and theological wisdom of God???s perfection. Rather than forgiving, we should strive for accepting—accepting what has happened, accepting God???s will. Acceptance does not necessarily imply an injustice, as a person accepts the fact, for example, that a hurricane has destroyed his home. A hurricane cannot act unjustly for the obvious reason that it has no sense of right and wrong and so cannot commit wrong. God and hurricanes are not similar and my examples are not meant to imply otherwise. I bring up both cases to show that acceptance need not imply an injustice which is being accepted. Accept what happens rather than forgive God for what happens and you will be on firmer theological ground.

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Categories: Ask Dr. Forgiveness