Monday, February 14, 2011

Uh, so where was God?

For those of us in Australia, summer has been full of one natural disaster after another. Quite frankly - from my point of comfort in Adelaide - it has sucked big time. If I was in flooded or cycloned Queensland, flooded NSW, VIC and parts of SA I wouldn't have time to pontificate here because I would be on pure survival level. Same with the people who lost their houses in fires in Western Australia. So where was God? On holiday? Doing the dishes? Or did he cause it? Are the elements more powerful then him? What's going on?

I'll tell you up front - that I won't be able to answer the big question of human suffering because from my understanding - no one has sufficiently answered it anyway. I'll also tell you now that I believe we are told not to judge people unfairly,however, we -are- to give of ourselves to help others, to pray for good to come out of bad situations, to comfort each other and to go back to the basic hopes we have has believers.

Look at these two articles under the links 'Lived' & 'Died' both in similar circumstances. Why did one person get saved in a nick of time, the other lost? Have a look:



If theologically you try to impose some sort of judgment on the situation, I'd say you have rocks in your head. The boy who was 'lost' - helped his brother -knowing he may well be sacrificing his own life...which is what happened. This is a 'Christ like' action, not stupidity or sin; but doing good - and so there is no rhyme or reason, no cause and effect. No sense. We do not know and I suspect God is not going to tell the bulk of us either.

Tory Shepherd, who I'm guessing is an Atheist or Agnostic at least, wrote an article in "The Advertiser" newspaper poo-pooing Church leaders who "flounder when they try to explain God's role in tragedy". You can read the article here. Though I would differ on the third
conclusion that possibly "God does not exist", I found the article refreshing in identifying - I believe -flawed Christian mottos that I don't think are helpful or indeed even true by biblical principals.

(1) God is in the rescue effort...maybe he is... but the obvious question is why did he make the mess in the first place? It doesn't make sense. Another point is that it is not only Christians helping other people in the rescue missions but people of all faiths and , dare I say, some Atheists too! Does God work through Atheists? Hmmmmm? (I'm not going to attempt to answer that one)

(2) God was in the miracles. Most major catastrophes have their 'miracle' stories. And God may well be working in some peoples lives to 'save' them from the jaws of death. I actually believe in God's ability to perform miracles - why wouldn't I, Jesus Christ performed many miracles? However, I don't think any of us are in a position of declaring any theological judgments. If Someone was saved through a miracle. We are thankful. If not, we don't know why. We cry with their loved ones. That's it.

(3) The devil caused it. The devil is not in the same league as God the Creator of the universe. Enough said.

Conclusions (according to the article by TS):
(A) "God caused the floods because he is righteous and thought the people deserved it"
(B) "God did not stop the floods and is therefore either complicit or not all powerful"
(C) "Or: God does not exist"

My personal response - at this stage of my life - is that I do believe God exists. So I'd smudge out (c). I do believe God is all powerful, so I can't go for the second point of (b).
I think for many of the disasters that are mentioned in the Bible, God often sent a prophet ahead pre-warning the people that he was going to bring disaster if they did not repent of their wicked ways (and by wicked - it was fairly serious). I do not remember hearing a prophecy about the coming disaster. If there was one - please tell me. So, I don't go for (a). Incidentally, I don't go for (a) either because it gets some Christians smug that obviously they are more righteous.

I would have to agree than with (B) "God did not stop the floods and is therefore ... complicit"

You say "how can you say that!?", Well - it seems to me that is exactly what the Bible says.

We don't know why he allows natural disasters. That's his business. To make judgments on the "big picture" of his dealings - is his domain. If you are a Christian - we've been told to look after each other practically, emotionally. To have faith in him that he does actually love each one of us and ultimately wants the best for us. Nowhere in the Bible are we told that it would be an 'easy ride'. Have a read of some of the Psalms, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes , some of the sayings of Jesus, the lives of the prophets and the apostles...pain and tragedy is part of our mortal existence. We trust in his ultimate 'rescue' of us but before then we will have many unanswered questions.

Many Christian leaders have called for donations and long term practical care and prayer. That's something we -do - know about and can control. And for those who are ready to hear, they may also get to know the God who 'so loved this world that he gave his only son' who also suffered. It's so left field that it doesn't make sense - but it changes lives.

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