Questions on Tragedy

We never expect it to happen but always dread that it will. When the tragedy of Columbine happened our nation was appalled and we searched for a handle on the situation. When the tragedy of 9/11 happened, our nation was even more surprised and questions about God flooded our consciousness. Now we have another tragedy which still surprises us and resurrects the questions . . . again.

The senseless killing of people inflamess the heart of our society. The tragic murder of almost 30 people on Friday has us reeling. I feel horrible about the circumstance and as a minister I am asked the questions. Why does God allow evil to prevail? What did those little six and seven-year old children do to deserve this? How could God let this happen?

And those kind of questions lead to deeper analysis. If God is “all-powerful,” than he would do something about bad things.  So, he is either uncaring toward humanity and our troubles and unwilling to help, or he is enjoying our suffering. That seems to be where it stops. Two options only: (1) God is uncaring or, (2) God is unwilling to help. These are not the only questions about the issue.

There are several facets to answering the problem of evil. And most ministers know the “pat” answers; and they’re correct, but they don’t usually affect the heart and don’t often satisfy the mind, but unless a person has the Spirit of God, we shouldn’t expect others to necessarily get it when given an explanation. Things like: Without pain we wouldn’t know there was something wrong and God allows pain and evil for us to learn discipline and so we will have faith in God and it gives God and his people the opportunity to share his love and compassion and God did do something about evil when Jesus died on the cross and defeated sin, evil, death, and the devil, and more.

The reasons are all true, but it is still sad when the lives of children’s are taken from them at such young ages. I can’t fathom the depth of grief family and friends experience in such circumstances. I have yet to preach or officiate at a baby’s or a child’s funeral. but I have preached many for teens and young adults and the emotions are similar. It is horrible, whether it is an accident, a sickness, a murder, or something else that took the young person’s life. I hate it but am privileged that God has gifted me and I am able to serve in tragic circumstances.

The thing is, when people begin to wonder where God is in tragic and troubling circumstances, they assume that this life is either all there is or this life is the best there is. If those things are true, than the senseless murder of 20 school children, a mother and a father, the other victims and the suicide of the killer are even more tragic.

This life isn’t “it.”  There is more. Jesus did come to defeat sin, evil, and Satan, and he did so by dying and paying for our sins on the cross. When we put our faith in Christ, we are putting our lives in the hands of a living and eternal God who has something incredible in store for us. There is more. Eternity with God where he is, where he dwells where there is no tragic circumstance, where Satan has no power, where all is good and safe.

Revelation 21:1-7; Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children, NRSV.

First, the heaven and earth that we know will be done away with. Why? To make way for that which is perfect and compete. Sin has been here on earth since shortly after creation (cf, Genesis 1-3), and the devil was with God in heaven when he rebelled and was cast out, so evil and impurity has been where heaven is. And when God creates the new heaven and new earth, they will always be without sin and what sin does. It brings death. Death won’t happen again. It brings crying. there won’t be any reason for tears any longer. It brings pain. Pain will not be a part of anything again. Therefore, nothing that brings hurt or difficulty or trouble will ever occur.

There is more to this life, there is the eternal life to come for those who are in Christ. Those who lose their lives, from old age, tragic circumstances, horrible situations that bring pain and death, actually have a better circumstance than we who are still living. They are safe with God.

I feel for and pray for the family and friends of the victims in the Connecticut tragedy and will for a while. I pray for their comfort and relief. And God will provide it according to each person’s willingness to receive. As bad and as sad as it is, things are not without hope, with God, in Christ.

Father above, of heaven and earth, please give the help that comforts, whatever the source, give strength as these events weaken hearts and souls, and please give the families unexpected grace this Christmas, Amen.

bloggingthechurch with a heavy heart

Advertisements

What Do You Say?

What do you say to young man who learned some disturbing truths about his father whose been dead for over a year?

What do you say to the young lady who is an orphan, whose foster parent was abusive, and being almost 18, nobody wants to take her into their home?

What do you say to the 41-year-old woman with a husband and 3 children who just learned that she has stage 4 cancer?

What do you tell the family whose 90-year-old matriarch dies of cancer and two days later, her grandson is killed in a tragic auto accident?

What do you tell them?

You tell them that someone very close to God died and it was because of sin too?  God knows and understands each predicament because he went through it too.

bloggingthechurch

I Didn’t Make Myself

Truthfully, I don’t think I have ever heard of anyone who claimed to have personally created themselves.  There are self-made people, but that has to do with who they are not their very existence.  The evolutionist, those who believe evolution is real, wouldn’t dare claim that they created themselves.  Something else did.  Actually, someone else did!

In the movie “Expelled” by Ben Stein, you know the teacher from the movie “Ferris Buehler’s Day Off” and the show, “Win Ben Stein’s Money,” he talks with atheist Richard Dawkins.  Interesting conversation.  Dawkins believes that there is the possibility of an intelligent designer, but rejects the idea that this intelligent designer is the God or a god of any sort.  It cannot be the Hebrew God, the Christian God, the Hindu god or gods, or any possibility of god, a non-personal or a personal god.  He totally rejects that.  He wouldn’t want that!

I reject the concept of “Mother Nature.”  Nature is God’s creation.  The God of the Bible, the Hebrew and Christian God.  Nature is not our creator, or even a god over us.  The Bible rejects the notion that there is no God and teaches there is only one true God.  “In the beginning God…” (Genesis 1:1); “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1).  The forever existent, self-existent being — GOD!  Hmm!  Pre-existent to creation, existing outside of time and space and existing beyond the end of the world and time.  Everlasting God is who He is.

So, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). From that point God created time (day and night, the seasons, the week – 7 days long) and created various aspects of what we have on this planet (land and sea, plants and animals and sea-creature, the sun, moon and stars) and human beings and you and I are related to Adam and Eve the progenitors of all humanity (Read Genesis 1).

I was created through conception and birth, a picture of the creation of man in my mind.  I didn’t make myself.  God made me and gave me breath and life.  Now, I can take my life (that’d be pretty bad) and I can ruin my life and I can run from God and deny him if I please (which is also very bad).  God gave us that prerogative; free-will, the freedom to choose right and wrong, the freedom to obey or disobey God.  In that, I guess I could be a self-made man, but I choose to let God’s creating continue in me.  To recreate, to renew my life through faith and hope in Jesus.

My physical make-up shows me without having to look into some high-powered microscope and see the depth of the detail of my cells and the molecules that make up my body.  It’s natural functions, breathing, eating and digestion, etc., tell me that there is a God and Jesus reveals who that God is (Romans 1:19-20), Yahweh the creator God who is Lord of creation and the whole world.  He rules from a throne in the spiritual realm and enters the physical world through Jesus, through messages from angels and prophets, through his Holy Spirit who is in the Christian, remaking me every day into the image and likeness of Christ who is the image and exact representation of God.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” Colossians 1:14-17, NIV.

I am his because he created me and because he has recreated me through Christ.

bloggingthechurch

I Just Don’t Know

I don’t get art. I mean, I am not an art appreciationado by any means. If someone paints an apple and it looks like an apple. I go, “Wow, that looks like an apple.” If someone paints a portrait than I admire the resemblance to the subject of the painting. But most art to me, is about as understandable as abstract art. There is no rhyme or reason behind it. The piece on the left here seems like light to me. But makes no sense otherwise. There seems to me to be nothing normal about it. Just colors. Just paint strokes. Whatever. I may like it, but it means nothing to me. It’s not an apple or a painting of a president or something that makes sense to my mind.

Today has been a difficult day. I guess it is the culmination of the past few days. Now there is tomorrow and I don’t know what that will bring. Life to me has always been, that’s an apple or that’s a president, not what is that?

Let me explain.

For me, life has been cut and dried. It is what it is and it made sense. I’m a guy, a product of a Christian home, 70’s music, a conservative understanding of life and politics and the Bible. I have been influenced by family, and church, and school, and friends (both Christian and not). I believe in marriage, that it is between a man and a woman, in parents raising their children, and punishment for wrong-doing. I can go on.

Life has always been pretty cut and dried. And I know a lot of the answers for why bad things happen to good people and why good things happen to bad people. You know, the problem of evil. I’ve even led people to a belief and understanding about God while discussing the problem.

But today has been, well, abstract. All I know just doesn’t make sense at the moment. Why does a 90-year-old woman die of cancer and not old age. That’s what happens to younger folk, people  my age. Why am I working the grave-yard shift when it so unnatural to stay awake all night long every day of the week. Night is for sleeping, not for working. And so sleep doesn’t come in ways that gives rest and clear-headedness. Why is a work week not Monday through Saturday, but Wednesday through Sunday. Who thought of that?

What I consider normal, working during the day and not on weekends, and sleeping at night and eating 3 times a day at pretty much set times, and people living to be old but dying from being aged, is well, only normal to me I guess.

The questions of life come down to this. In everything, in every aspect of life, every moment whether “normal” or not, do I love God with all of my heart and mind and soul and strength, and do I trust him with all my heart.

bloggingthechurch

PS: Besides, I may be catching a cold. Now that sucks!