And now, for the obvious…

Why did God let all of this happen? Why did a God who can heal the sick, who communicates with us directly, cares about us and loves us, a God who does miracles and never leaves us alone, how could He let this happen?

I realize that this is considered an elementary question in some circles. That God is bigger than all of us and we don’t know His reasons, that we shouldn’t question them. Well, I believe otherwise. I believe I must question this, for how else will I sustain my faith over the years? Also, how will I respond when this question is asked of me? Lastly, is it a reason for me to question whether this God is real, after all?

One element of how people answer this question is to say that even when things seem bad in the moment, there is always something good that comes out of it. Stacy James, for example, is now able to point to the ways in which God has enriched her life as a result of her diving accident. She clearly states that “God did not push me in the water to punish me or necessarily teach me a lesson; I chose to dive off my friend’s shoulders. As horrible as the consequences were, I can blame no one but myself.” That’s well and good for personal accidents and losses for which you are, indeed, the cause. But what about things for which you are not the cause?

Romans 8:28 says that: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (NLT). That helps in the midst of a hard thing. It helps to know that God is there, caring for us, working things for good. His work and His presence are certainly there in D’Iberville, even amidst all the sorrow and pain. He provides the hope it takes for folks to keep moving on, to rebuild their lives. In the end, however, this passage does not describe why He lets bad things happen.

I suppose the folks in New Orleans might be quite grateful to God. After all, the eye of the Hurricane missed them. This point was poignant in the new IMAX film we saw: http://www.hurricaneonthebayou.com/. After spending the week in Mississippi, it was glaringly obvious that when the film said “the eye of the hurricane missed New Orleans”, MrH and I completed the sentence by saying “but hit the Gulf Coast full on.” Was that God’s act?

Perhaps 1 Kings 19:11-12 answers this question: “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.”

Based on this passage, Tony Campolo writes that “Instead of looking for God in the earthquake or the tsunami, in the roaring forest fires blazing in the western states, or in the mighty winds of Katrina, it would be best to seek out a quiet place and heed the promptings of God’s still small voice. That voice will inspire us to bring some of God’s goodness to bear in the lives of those who suffer…Personally, I contend that the best thing for us to do in the aftermath of Katrina is to remain silent, and not try to explain this tragedy. Instead of asking ‘Why?’ we should be asking, ‘What does God want us to do now?'” Perhaps he’s the one who has it right – that God isn’t in these things, but rather, before, after, and around these things. And that even then, He can provide comfort, clothing, and shelter to all who call upon His name.

What ways have you found helpful for thinking about this?

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4 Comments

  1. amycat said,

    February 25, 2007 at 10:06 am

    I think about these sorts of accidents similiarly to your final sentiments. While I believe that God can do anything, I think that he doesn’t chose to control this world. He choses to be a gentleman (or gentlewoman) instead, stepping back and letting us have our freewill to chose and respecting our choice to invite him into our lives and decisions or not. On the other hand, the enemy does not value our own freewill. He tries to control our lives and he does not mind taking control of us. He is invasive and damaging, not God. And I feel like that’s why there is so much tragedy…God waits to be asked before intervening, the enemy does not. He destroys at will. And so many of us, don’t know to ask.

    Jane, kudos to you for processing so much of your experience in D’Iberville. I often avoid really articulating answers to these hard questions. Thanks for giving me a chance to do that here.

  2. Tim said,

    February 25, 2007 at 10:10 pm

    I’m not quite clear on what you should expect from your faith, but it is a faith. If you’re willing to believe in God/supreme being/invisible superfriend, it doesn’t seem too much of a stretch to also believe that you cannot possibly understand his/her intentions. It is called a faith, for good reason.

    Personally, I think life is not guaranteed to be fair and you should make the best from what you’ve got. I realize I’ve been extremely lucky. I’d like to say that I think it’s important to help other people, but I spend a negligible portion of my life doing that so it would be kind of dishonest. Hopefully some day I’ll be able to use what you and Tom did as inspiration for doing something similar.

    Tim

  3. Jane said,

    February 27, 2007 at 8:55 am

    Both helpful! Yes, it is faith, and it’s funny how I spend so much time coming to concrete “how it works” answers. The whole point is that we don’t really have those, isn’t it? Thanks!

  4. March 7, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    […] 7th, 2007 at 8:46 pm (Uncategorized) I’m still soliciting thoughts on this post, and would love to hear what you have to say about it!  In the meantime, I’ll work on […]


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