Thursday, August 19, 2004

God of Tragedy

This is a little piece I've worked on a couple of times. If you like it, great. If not, let me know what you don't like.

In the last couple of months, I’ve seen several tragedies befall families near me and mine. At church, we had one three year old who had to get his foot amputated after a lawn mower accident. Another child was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. A friend from high school and college gave birth to a baby that only lived a couple of days. And a couple of weeks ago, a neighbor girl was on a rope swing with a friend. The branch the swing was tied on broke and fell on her, killing her.

I can use my faith to deal with some. Disease and birth defects are part and parcel of living in a fallen world. Lawn mower accidents can be part of our increased reliance on “dangerous” technologies, but it’s the last one that has really hit me.

I can only imagine that the parents would be loath to hear about “God’s plan.” I know that I’d hate for someone telling me about God’s plan that included taking away my only child. I wouldn’t want to hear meaningless platitudes about how this all fits into His hands. I wouldn’t want to hear about how “all things work together for the good,” because they sure didn’t in this case.

I’d be asking where God was. I’d be asking why He didn’t make a gust of wind blow that branch away from her, why He didn’t touch the chromosome to make that baby boy “normal” or the little girl live without CF, or why He didn’t make the lawn mower run out of gas before it cut off that little boy’s foot.

As I think about this, I realize that I feel entitled. That for some reason, because I follow God, the everyday tragedies that befall someone somewhere everyday shouldn’t happen to me or those close to me. But they do, and they happen to people that claim the name of Christ and those that speak against him.

I don’t know why things happen. I don’t know why families lose children, why husbands whose wives stay home lose their jobs, why marriages die, why any of them happen. But I do know that I think I’ve come to disagree with the old saying that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

I think that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you weaker, more dependent on God. And when we’re at our weakest is when we open ourselves up the most to the supernatural. When all the natural explanations have failed, only the supernatural remains. In the hardest situations do we truly experience the supernatural comfort that God offers.

I don’t know why things happen. I don’t know if God allows them. I only know that in His comfort and in His arms is where our hope remains. And hope does not disappoint.


Clarissa said...

We may never be able to see the intricate effects such occurrences have on that bigger picture God is painting ... and he DOES allow things, or they wouldn't happen. He is in control. He doesn't CAUSE evil or tragedy, (though the flood and Ananias and Sapphira both popped into my head as I typed that -- but those were just responses to evil rather than pointless tragedies) but he doesn't always stop it. I want to know all the whys and wherefores ... but I can't. Thank God for the hope of life everlasting where sorrow will be no more. May we purposefully push ahead to help more people know the same hope that we have.


Adam said...

There is a scene that got cut from "Bruce Almighty" (you can see a rough version on the DVD) where God and Bruce are kind of "looking in" on people's lives and the long term effects certain events have on them. At one point Bruce says "hey! That's Lance Armstrong." They go on to recap Armstrong's struggles and victories after which God remarks "Son, to paint a picture that beautiful, you have to use some pretty dark colors." Overly simplistic and touchy-feely? Maybe. I think there's alot of truth in it too though.

Phil said...

I wish they'd left that scene in the movie. What you two have commented on is part of my frustration: I want to know those things even though I can't.

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