In the midst of tragedy, whether personal or on the grand world stage, the one question always arises.
Along with that comes various comments and interpretations often having to do with God.
"God caused this to happen because of (Fill in wacky answer of choice)."
"Why did God do this horrible thing?"
What did (whoever) do to deserve this?"
If we haven't learned yet from 9/11 we never will. 9/11 was the mother of all "tragedy pertaining to God" questions. As a pastor living in the Metro NY area, I fielded hundreds of them.
People want to know why, and people need to be able to blame something or someone.
God becomes the fall guy.
So, what I have learned from the major tragedies of our time?
First and foremost that God is never to blame.
Here is my patented answer as to why..........
I believe that God allows, but does not cause pain and tragedy. Even when I say He allows, it is more of a forced choice than a conscious effort to hurt.
I base this not upon feelings, emotions or human knowledge.
I base it upon the infallible Word of God.
1 John 1:5 - "And this is the message [the message of promise] which we have heard from Him and now are reporting to you: God is Light, and there is no darkness in Him at all [no, not in any way]."
1 John 4:8 - "He who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love."
There it is. Not only is there an answer as to why God couldn't cause this pain, but also why man keeps blaming Him.
God couldn't do this:
a). Because He is Light and in Him there is no darkness (evil).
b). He IS love. Not that He just loves, but actually IS love itself. It would be totally and completely against His nature to compromise that with hatred.
c). Man's (some) anger and desire to strike out against God and blame Him is because they have never taken the time to know Him or His love.
God essentially becomes the good guy/bad guy, not unlike any President of the United States. When things go good he is at least tolerated.
So the big matzoh ball in the room becomes ironically another "why?".
IF God is so powerful, and so all knowing, and so loving, why doesn't He prevent these things?
My answer, coming on the heels of 9/11, and after thousands of hours of biblical and theological training and study of the Holy Bible, is...........(drum roll)........
"Why should He have stopped it?"
I mean that in the deepest most thoughtful sense, and after eliminating all other possible answers.
After all, He has given us life itself, He has been the Author of Grace and has poured it out upon the human race freely and with love and with no respect of a persons gender, status, power, career, or geographic location.
He has sacrificed His own Son Jesus Christ for the welfare and salvation of the entire world (John 3:16).
What more can God do then what He has already done? Should He interfere with every aspect of our lives? Should He repeal free will and render us automatons?
His judgment is just and not incurred cruelly and not without a pure and discerning nature. He dos not wield a fierce hammer as the pagan mythical gods.
God has set His standards and laws in motion from the foundations of the world. They include natural physical and spiritual laws. When we violate those those we incur the coinciding penalties.
Jump off the roof and you will hit the ground. We have not found a way to confound or circumvent the Law of Gravity. Even if we launch into space for years and years, we will ultimately come back to earth.
That's a natural, or physical, Law.
Be cheap with your sowing (giving) and you will receive a cheap reward. "A man reaps what he sows" (Gal. 6:7). That's a spiritual Law.
It's not like God's a traffic cop. He is in the love and grace business. When we violate that we will naturally suffer for it as it automatically violates the nature and will of God.
Because ultimately we decide that's the way we want it. Whether due to ignorance or rebellion, we cannot live right by flying in the face of what is right and good.
And then, just to make things interesting, we have to factor in life's difficulties living in an imperfect world. God made it perfect, and Adam screwed it up.
Hence, we now have sickness and illness, poverty, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes, and yes, wacko religious zealots who fly planes into buildings.
This is why God sent Jesus Christ. In Him we have peace in the storm. In Him we have our joy. In Him we rest even if we don't have all of the answers.
So I suppose the ultimate answers to everything is Jesus. It all culminates in Him.
Yes, there will be life and death, good days and bad days, ups and downs, but as we walk even through the valley of the shadow of death we do so without fear because He is with us.
Make no mistake about it friends, earth in 2010 is indeed the Valley of Death. How you spend your time in it is completely and totally up to you.
As for me? I'm going through with Jesus and I have every intention of making it out the other side, come disasters, sickness, or even the gates of hell.
Keepin' it Real,
Pastor Kevin <><