Dear Father: I recently debated a stranger on social media about the existence of God. I posted “May God rest her soul,” to which this person responded “sweetheart, there is NO god. Where was god when all the Jews were being slaughtered by the Nazis??? Where was he when all the school shootings occur??? Where is he now when all the sick and hungry people need him?? Yeah, some savior.” I responded as I saw fit but was wondering how you would reply to comments like this?
Dear friend in Christ,
Wow, great question. Good for you for standing up for the faith.
The most important thing to remember is that you are not going to convince this person of anything. Social media is a place where people become more entrenched in their positions, not more inclined to consider new ones. No matter what you said, that person already made up their mind.
Instead of trying to use facts and logic and apologetics to respond, try first to embrace their pain. Sure, the existence of evil and suffering is one of the most common arguments that people use to try disprove God. It is rather easily refuted. But this person can’t hear that right now. Don’t start there. Look at the words and the tone this stranger used. This person is hurting. There is some wound or pain in their life which is manifesting itself in this angry response to you. Try to acknowledge it, say something consoling and affirming, offer your sincere wishes that they find peace. Essentially, love them. If you show that you are genuinely more interested in their wellbeing than winning an argument, you become the kind of person they might eventually listen to.
Long story short: don’t try to win a debate at first. Minister to the hurting soul behind the anger. Then the rest will come. Fast and offer sacrifices for this person’s conversion. It seems like the Lord is assigning him to you.
Let us know how it goes.