Friday, May 27, 2011

What Happened to the Week? ...And Where Was God When it Happened?

It's hard to believe that it's Friday morning. It has been a very unusual week in Southwest Missouri.

The devastation from Sunday's tornado in Joplin has filled the news for the entire week.  It has been the topic of nearly every conversation, the subject of many Facebook posts, and the story of the Ozarks.  There are many collections sites throughout the area for donations of all kinds. Faith-based organizations are finally being let into the area to help with clean up and to start helping people recover.  The stories of people of Joplin are heart breaking.

It seems only natural to ask, "Where is God in all of this? How could a loving God allow this kind of tragedy?"

I wish that I had a good answer.

In my own mind, I can rationalize that we (as humans) live in a fallen world and have to deal with the consequences of the choices that were made by our ancestors.  I know that not all of my readers believe in the Bible and the stories of the Fall of Man or the Great Flood.  I accept that we bear some responsibility for the world we live in; the tragedies of war, the addictions of the flesh, the waste of natural resources and the changing weather patterns.

Some might call me a Humanist and say that I give man too much credit. They would remind me that God is Sovereign and that everything is according to His divine plan.

Well then, is it fair to ask:  Was it God's plan for a sixteen-month-old baby to be ripped from his mother's arms to be found dead days later?  Was it God's plan for a young bride to be left alive and alone as her new husband gave his life to protect her?  Is there a divine strategy for God to receive glory in the midst of over a hundred deaths and tens of thousands with tragically changed lives?

Does it seem lame for me to simply say that I don't know what to say?  I mean, I have those questions, too.  Is the trade off for the good works that people are doing in the wake of the disaster worth the pain and suffering that was caused by the storm?  Is there some kind of divine scale that weighs that out?

I have to be honest with you, as a preacher I'm not very good at answering questions about how God works when it comes to dealing with the wants, needs, and concerns of our day-to-day lives.  Oh, I can show you where it says that He cares for the lilies of the fields and the birds of the air and all that, but I can't explain why millions of kids (Christian and non-Christian alike) are starving or dying from a lack of food and clean water.  I can't explain why a mother with young children dies of breast cancer or a young father is killed in a war.

Could it just be that we tend to place much more value on our physical lives than God does?  Could it be that His main concern is with our spiritual life?  In the aftermath of Adam and Eve's disastrous choice in the garden and covering of the earth with a great flood, we don't find God working out a way to get them back into the garden or restoring the earth to its pre-flood state.  What we do find is God going to extraordinary means to reconcile our spiritual beings.

In the Bible, James writes that our lives are like a vapor--here for a moment, then gone forever.  Maybe we need to be more concerned with reconciling our spiritual lives with God rather than trying to lengthen our physical lives.  Maybe more money, bigger house, faster car isn't the way to be.

Perhaps you'd like to know more about this spiritual reconciliation.
Now that's something that I'd like to tell you about!

John <><


Emily said...

You finally pushed me over the edge, John. It has been a surreal and mind numbing time here, watching and listening to unbelievable tragedy everyday.
You are completely right. I think that we do put too much into our physical wants and needs. God is about our emotional and most of all spiritual awake-ness to Him.
Thank you for this reminder.
Now to wipe my tears....

fiona said...

John, have you read the book "Why" by Adam Hamilton? He talks about the same things as you have in this post and his reasoning waylays any doubt many of us sometimes feel. I've got it on me Kindle!! xxxx

John said...

I'm so glad that you and others were able to go today. I don't know if I should say I'm sorry for your tears or not. Sometimes I think the emotional release is good for us. Thank you for ministering today.

I'll put it on my list. Thanks.


PTR Group said...

Nice article John,