I was teaching class on Wednesday, and we were discussing the idea that one of the important steps in recognizing that God is close is believing that he is – opening our minds to the possibility that he is walking with us. We will not recognize him if we do not have faith that he will be there.
I borrowed a story from JtM as an illustration. JtM was leaving the house one day. He backed out of the garage, shut the garage door and had to wait while something mechanical happened with the door. This unwanted delay lasted just a minute or two, and then he was on his way. On the main road, as he was driving, a tree branch fell and crashed into the road, just in front of his car. If he had not been delayed, his car would have been struck by the branch.
God involved? My point in telling the story was that we can believe that God was involved. We can make that choice.
At the end of this story, an older gentleman in class said, “But what about the opposite of that?" He told us about a young woman in Florida who had been walking down the street on a clear, bright day. A tree fell over, and crushed her to death. They didn’t even know she was missing until they were cleaning up the tree and found her. Why didn’t God stop that from happening? Did he make it happen for some reason of his own?
I have no good answer. I stumbled through the discussion in class, and I’m still thinking about it.
Is God involved in life? Does life just happen, and he lets it?
My husband drove home from training yesterday. I prayed for his safe travel. I have friends flying home from a conference today (JtM and MT), and I pray for their safe flight. My mom is having surgery on Tuesday and is suffering from high blood pressure. I pray for her healing. I pray that my son will be safe traveling to his band competitian today, and I prayed that I would make it home from work and that my aunt who has lung disease will live a long and happy life.
Does God answer those kinds of prayers? Only sometimes? Never? Is it all just chance?
It’s a question as old as Job, and I don’t pretend in any way, shape or form to have the answer. There are, however, a few things that I know.
- God loves me (and you, too). He cannot NOT love. It is his nature. It is his driving force. He doesn’t just love his creation – humanity. He loves ME with an unending, unimaginable love. And you.
- He is trustworthy. I will not believe that he is guilty of doing something which I would call horrible sin in someone else. I do not believe – will not believe – that he would drop a tree on a young woman and kill her. It would be contrary to his nature.
- He has given us freedom of choice. I was listening to a sermon by Louie Giglio, in which he said, “God gives us freedom of choice, but he is always in control.” Think of the cross. Men chose to kill the son of God. Horrible. And yet God brought the most amazing and wonderful act of love into the world through this horrible choice that men made.
- God understands what suffering is like. He watched his son die on a cross, and he didn’t stop it. He knows.
- We are made in the image of God. When a mother loses her child and feels the horrible pain of it, God understands. He not only understands, but he is feeling the same pain. She is not alone in her pain; God grieves with her. Remember, he loves us with unimaginable love, and he grieves when bad things happen to us.
I still don’t have an answer, but this is what I believe – this is what I think. What I wanted to say in class, but didn’t, is that sh*t happens. Bad things do happen in the world. I think we make a mistake when we believe that God engineers evil. I think that we try to “sugarcoat” bad things by telling people that the horrible event which just occurred in their lives is the will of God, as if that makes it less horrible. I think we make a mistake when we don’t trust the love that God has for us enough to know that he would not do that which we would condemn someone else for doing. (That’s Weatherhead, The Will of God,
and everyone should read that book.)
He loves us, and he grieves when we hurt, he aches with our pain and he is doing everything that can be done to rescue us from sin. He has not abandoned us in this world; his grip is unbreakable. He understands it when we are angry, when we hurt, when we doubt, when we cry and suffer, because he made us in his own image, and he has felt all of those reactions. It’s even OK if that anger is directed at him. He “gets” it.
I continue to pray for safe travels, for healing, for help because God has told me to do that. Is it good and right for me to believe that the JtM’s garage door was delayed so that he wouldn’t be hit by a branch? Yes. What about the woman in Florida, killed by a tree? Bad things happen. Do I have the answer to that contradiction? No. I leave it to God. He is God, and I am not. I will trust him enough to live with the unanswerable questions.
When you come to the end of Job, that was Job’s answer from God.Images: Sky at VA on Friday morning
Labels: Faith, Ortberg Closer, Prayer