After the death of his daughter 10 years ago, the former chairman of the Council of the Protestant Church, Nikolaus Schneider, has begun to wonder. Does God really mean well? On Friday evening, he spoke about it at the Evangelical Church Congress in Stuttgart.
The faith of Nikolaus Schneider, former chairman of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), has suffered "cracks and fires" as a result of his daughter Meike’s death from cancer, in his own words. Although he did not question the existence of God after this barely endurable experience in 2005, Schneider said Friday evening at the Protestant Church Congress in Stuttgart. However, he had begun to wonder whether God really meant well with him. "God is not the buddy around the corner," Schneider said. "There are also dark sides."
"I didn’t think that was okay"
Ultimately, however, he survived the tragic event ten years ago only because God held him in spite of it, added Schneider, who was also president of the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland until 2013. That added a new dimension to his faith, he said. Still, he sometimes asks himself, "Did it have to be this way??", Schneider said. "I’d like to clarify who had to carry which burdens, I didn’t think that was right."
Schneider’s wife Anne, who has been battling cancer for about a year, compared her relationship with God to a long marriage. Faith in God, he said, must be a mixture of gift and relational work. "I’m also allowed to bring my complaining, questioning and doubting before God, and not just surrendered reverence," she told.
Happy in the moment
After chemotherapy, she is currently "doing wonderfully", added Anne Schneider. The doctors had told her that she could perhaps still "plan for a period of five to ten years": "I take this as a great gift and am simply happy at the moment."