If you can’t blame God when things go horribly wrong, who can you blame? For example, a lot of people believe that God is in control of everything. He is pulling the strings and setting the stage for his glorious and wonderful purposes to be discovered in the midst of tragedy.
I was reading a post in a theology forum about the death of a nine year old girl. The viewing was held in a church and the church produced a flyer for people to read. “Why did this girl die?” Not a bad title if you want to catch someone’s attention. The flyer went on to describe this tragedy as being God’s design and plan to bring about something better. God did this to make his name known. He did what?!
Serial killers and dictators do that kind of stuff, not God.
I know, I know you have a whole bunch of reasons for believing this. You may be right. I hope you aren’t, but it is entirely possible that you are right. I am hoping that I am right.
Jesus enters this world and right around the time of his birth, Herod has a whole bunch of children killed (Matthew 2.16-17). Jesus entered a world filled with evil and sorrow and disease and death.
So, how does Jesus make a name for himself? Begin God and all, I would think this is an appropriate place to look. He heals the sick, cleanses the leper, gives sight to the blind, speech to the mute, makes the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, and…get this…he raises the dead to life.
Jesus doesn’t kill to make a name for his self. He directly confronts the darkness of this world and destroys its power. Now that’s the way to make a name for yourself!
I’ve said this before; it takes no skill to imitate God on the death side. Anyone can take life. They can take life to feel powerful and for people to be afraid of them. Like I said, dictators and serial killers do this all the time. They use fear and intimidation to get us to bend to their will. If we don’t bend, they break us.
Why would we ever settle for this kind of understanding to God? Well, someone might say, “God is a god of love so everything he does is out of love for us.” The death of a nine year old, the imprisonment and systematic rape of three women over 10 years, and the death of innocent children in an elementary school shooting, human trafficking, and war are all done out of love for us. I would rather buy the Brooklyn Bridge and full asking price than to believe that about God.
God is glorified when we confront the evil of this world with the Kingdom of God. God is glorified when we clothe the naked, feed the hungry, care for the sick, visit the imprisoned, and give a drink to the thirsty.
God is glorified when we live the Kingdom as something counter to the world in which we live. God is glorified when we love rather than hate. God is glorified when we confront sorrow and despair with a patient and prayerful presence that God would help us in our time of need.
This is one man’s opinion. It is the way I make it through this life that has much more death and sorrow than I can really explain. It is a way for me to be brokenhearted and hopeful at the same time. It is an image of God that actually gives me the strength to comfort those that are grieving and are desperate to know “Why?”
“God, they are really hurting and angry right now. It sure would be great if you would comfort them in their time of need. While we’re waiting, I’m going to be hugging and crying with them. Amen”
I wish I knew the answer to why a little girl dies. I am, however, thrilled to know the one that will raise her back to life.
Dave is an associate pastor at Williams Lake Church of the Nazarene. You can follow him on Twitter @gerberdave or email him firstname.lastname@example.org.