You know the question, don't you?
I saw it this past week when I received a text message from someone in our church who said, "(My husband and I have been) praying... trying to get our heads around over 100,000 people confirmed dead and more to be expected. A whole school of children! How do you get your brain/heart around that? Oh God!"
And then there was another this morning from someone who said via Facebook, "My heart is breaking for the Haitian people....ANOTHER earthquack/aftershock??? This seems SO not fair! I'm having a little trouble reconciling a God of Mercy right now.....:("
Personally, I think these moments of tension are powerful. I know I'm not supposed to, because these are supposed to be thoughts that atheists do a little dance about when Christians become speechless at the tragedy in this world. They hurl insults like, "Look at this mess. Where is your God now? See, I told you! He isn't there, is He?"
Ah... what a great opportunity. I don't by any means in saying that mean to lighten the heaviness of what has happened, but rather to point out the pure growth that can happen now that we are asking those questions.
Because the atheists have a point - the deity that we've been worshipping doesn't exist, and in these moments we learn that. But that doesn't mean God doesn't exist - read what I just wrote... "the deity that we've been worshipping doesn't exist."
Let me be clearer - many well meaning people worship a God that is more of a math problem than a Lord over the universe. He's the "God who always makes sense" and "doesn't give you more than you can handle" - the one that says if you're good and vote Republican/Democrat, good things will happen to you and you'll have a prosperous life. He's the "safety-net-God," the "it's-okay-to-look-down-your-nose-at-other-people-who-are-living-apart-from-so-you-can-feel-good-that-you-aren't-like-them-God," and "go-to-church-every-Sunday-and-life-will-make-sense-God."
That God doesn't exist.
You may need to read that last sentence again.
And so the atheists have it right when they point it out to us.
Now, I don't believe that the people who wrote the comments I quoted earlier believe in this lesser-god, but rather are trying to make sense out of the real God. And I totally applaud that and believe this is the time to do what they are attempting to do. We must figure out what it means to reconcile the destruction in our world with who God is... and isn't.
Because the God that the atheists have formed that they will not believe in (yes, that is ironic) doesn't exist either. The popular statement is that “A God who is good and all-powerful cannot allow evil to exist, but evil does exist, therefore there is no good and all-powerful God.” Without realizing it, they have also made a statement of faith in forming their anti-faith.
I know... this is heavy and confusing stuff.
So maybe the greater question about all of this has to do with why we land where we land as we circle all the chaos in life.
- Why is it that on the same night as a major news special on the tragedy in Haiti the Golden Globes aired? Why do we allow that to happen? Which did you tune into?
- Why is it that on a USA Today page that shows pictures of the devastation there are headlines just below like "Nicole Richie fashions a clothing line" and "Brad Pitt's beard turns heads?" Why do we allow that to happen? Which headline did you click on?
I'm going to write a bit on this each day for the next few days, and I hope in doing so your understanding of God - the real One, that is - grows.
That is, if you're willing to take part in this journey... which means holding your current understanding of God (or anti-God) a little looser so you might better understand what you do - or don't - believe in.
I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, "My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?"(Daniel 12:8)