After 45 years one thing that I have figured out is that I have a very Jewish view of God. I've checked out other religions and they are just fine but what helps me connect, pulls me out of despair, inspires, and lifts my spirit, is this Jewish idea of God as a divine parent. A good parent of course. Most questions that I had about God I answered by putting myself in God's place as a good parent.
Why would God create us knowing that we have this frightening power to do evil?
Would I decide not to have children because they might turn out to be murderers?
Doesn't that make it His fault that evil continues?
Does that make it my fault if I have children and they do evil?
Why doesn't he stop us?
Why don't we stop our children?
Should I be afraid of God?
Should my kids be afraid of me?
How about if I put myself in the place of the child? Does my parent really forgive me? Can I really trust my parent? Does my parent really love me? Should I feel guilty about asking my parent for what I need or want? Should I really be pissed off if my parent refuses to give it to me? Am I grateful for what my parent has already given me? Do I let my parent know that I am grateful?
God seems to talk to us in the Tanakh and the Message (New Testament) exactly the way our parents talked to us; "Why do you do exactly what I told you not to? Didn't I tell you it was going to turn out badly if you did that? You can't understand why yet, you just have to trust me. I know you really want that, but believe me, I'm doing you a favor by not giving it to you. This is really gonna hurt for a while but its the only way. Its ok I forgive you, but for my sake, yours, and everyone else's, please don't do it again. Don't make me have to spank you! You'll be back."
One of the few questions that can't be answered this way is, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" Personally, I believe the answer is twofold. If it is a result of nature, then its just random and is just one of the things about earth that is a drag. The Bible says this pretty explicitly in Ecclesiastes 9:11-12:" I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift
or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
or wealth to the brilliant
or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all. Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come:
As fish are caught in a cruel net,
or birds are taken in a snare,
so men are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them."
If its a result of one human's actions against another then maybe it is allowed so it can teach us about the nature of Love and the cost and consequences of our freedom. Even though we tell our children not to stick their hand in the flame, we've got to let them do it to really learn. And certainly we can admit that Love is not true unless it is freely given. If God made us robots then its not real love is it? He has to give us the freedom to reject him. (And I use the term "him" out of convenience.)
I often hear what a bad thing anthropomorphism is in the Bible, and it certainly has had some very bad consequences in history when certain groups of people have taken the imagery so literally. But I think image of the Divine Parent can also be a great idea that can help us understand the nature of Love. And I believe that God is Love.