Saturday, May 24, 2008

why does God allow tragedies?

"For you have been given the privilege for the Messiah's sake not only to believe in him but also to suffer for him." Philippians 1:29 (International Standard Version)

On Wednesday evening, the 5-year old daughter of a well-known Christian singer was killed when her teenage brother accidentally backed over her. When I heard it, it made me cringe. It broke my heart. I can not even fathom what that family is going through. What the brother is feeling. Why, you have to ask, does God allow things like that to happen? Often I think that Christians think that our lives will be protected from injury. That God will never allow tragedy. That He may always answer our prayers the way we want Him to.

But why does He allow such awful tragedies? This answer may seem like foolishness to those outside the church, and maybe to those inside, and I don't know for sure, but I do believe that those who are strong in Christ sometimes suffer great tragedies so that God can be glorified through them. Because those who are strong in the Lord will turn to Him, and receive strength only He can give. And others will see us glorifying God amidst great suffering and tragedy. Those who have truly been touched deeply by Jesus love won't, can't turn away. God IS love, and how can we turn away from love? As Peter said to Jesus, when Jesus asked would he too turn away, he replied, "To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." The beauty of grace is that in tragedy we cling to God - who is love, who created love, who spoke love, who created all and loves despite the horror we inflict on one another - we cling to God even amidst great suffering and tragedy. We forgive. We give. We suffer. And by turning our eyes to God in our suffering - as Daniel looked to God while inside the lion's den - we show others Who to look to for hope. I sometimes believe God allows the strong in Christ to suffer more. These could be people who are nonbelievers at the time, who God knows may later turn to Him. God sees the whole life, not just the snapshot in time.

Life is sometimes overwhelmingly painful and confusing. Life can be tragic. Yet to me the great question is not why tragedies happen, but why beauty and love exists when people are so selfish and the world is so fallen.

Another thought this tragedy brought to mind is how in such times of tragedy, we don't want to hear platitudes. The words may be true but in times of tragedy people don't need to hear them, but need "Jesus with skin on" - and that is why bringing meals, being present, being a friend, or showing up for earth quake or tsunami or flood victims speaks far more than saying things like "God will never give you more than you can handle." It may be a true statement but it's not what we need in tragedies. We need love in action. And at the same time, those of us witnessing a tragedy all need to show love in action for the hurting people in the world.

This past Sunday at my church, my pastor spoke some really moving and powerful words, which I just read to Sean, as the words spoke much about the work we have been talking about in the Solomons in some of the same language we have used. Pastor Al said, "Many of you are leaders for my kingdom. I have given you a passion to serve. I encourage you to open your heart to the leading of my Spirit, " and ended it with "I once told my disciples – 'pray for harvest workers.' You are harvest workers. Pray to my father for workers for the kingdom."

1 comment:

Gabriel said...

There's many crossroads in our lives where we wonder what it's all about! Seems you're sitting smack on top of one of those places.

Wish I had answers. Wish we all did!