Oh God, Where Art Thou?
Life is tragedy.
The tragic earthquake in Japan, an 8.9 rumble of devastation, reminds me of hard conversations I’ve had in the past. Conversations over coffee and tea about God, about Evil, and about tragedy.
Some might say the world’s just been given an 8.9 richter-scale sized reason to deny God’s existence. Or if He does exist, that He doesn’t care about what happens to us here on Earth.
On some level, that’s understandable.
Considering the quake and tsunami destroyed the lives and livelihood of thousands of people will naturally lead to the age old, but still valid questions: Couldn’t God have stopped this? What good is having all power if you can’t save lives?
My heart goes out to those in Japan, to the survivors of fallen friends and family. To a nation ripped apart.
But I also think about the spiritual ripple effects, about those who will experience a quake of their own.
Tragedies can cause a spiritual shakeup that unearths our doubts and fears from the established, flourishing exteriors we show the world. Not only will many… many… raise doubts about the love of God in the scriptures, but many will be fueled by those fears to run as far away from God as possible. They’ll become emotional atheists, dead set on believing God could not possibly exists with the tragic loss of life so prevalent in our word. In this, the tragedy is two-fold. Physical and spiritual.
Sure, times like these usually pull us together. People from all countries, religions, and worldviews usually provide collective aid to victims of sudden tragedy. And that’s normally a good thing. Echoes of the “goodness of the human spirit” will bounce from local news reports, to barber shops and salons, grocers and street corners.
Love and charity will flow from the hands and hearts of Christians and non-Christians, alike. Even if for different reasons.
The Christians will credit the Jesus inside them as the source of the love they will show. But for many non-christians, it will inwardly feel as though they are doing God’s work for Him — that they are responding to his apparent neglect. In essence, they carry the, perhaps subconscious, idea that they are filling in God’s holes. Dotting his i’s and crossing his t’s. That their love and charity is being performed in spite of God, not because of Him.
These are the realities that Christians must face. The reality of how life forms the social perception of who God is, and how much He cares about us.
Thus, I contend the Christian is called to more.
It is not enough for us to respond to the physical need of those affected by tragedies. We must also be ready to respond to the spiritual shakeup of those around us, of those who allow tragedy to let the air out of the perception that God is love. We must be ready to engage in our primary fight, which is spiritual, as well. To do this, we need to tune our antennas to the spiritual ramifications of life’s downturns and tragedies.
When the world is asking “Oh God, where art thou?” (which sounds eerily familiar to Jesus’ cry on the cross “My god, my god, why has thou forsaken me”) we must be ready to confirm to them that God does care, that He is heartbroken at the loss of life. It says in 2Peter 3:9 that He does not want any of us to perish, that He wishes eternal life for us all.
Which, brings me back to spirituality. Because, when God is talking about “perishing” in that verse, I don’t think he means it in the physical sense. I think He means He doesn’t wants us all to experience eternal spiritual separation from Him.
Which may mean that our physical lives on this Earth are much higher on our priority lists, than they are on God’s. Does that mean he doesn’t care for your Earthly life? No it doesn’t. But for us and our point of view, the physical is so magnanimous. For us, physical death is the ultimate evil.
But for God, our physical lives on Earth are temporal and fleeting. They are the first act of the play, the appetizer to the meal. And while Jesus did come so that we might have life more abundantly, the Bible is also clear that life will be full of trouble, and that it will rain on the just and the unjust.
But the gospel, the good news, is that our trouble won’t last always. That in the end, after this physical Earthly life, God will wipe away all tears. There will be no more death, sorrow or crying. No pain. The old way of things, the way of tragedy and death, will be gone.
This is the promise we must be ready to speak to. Love and charity for now, but spiritual salvation for eternity. Spiritual connection and relationship with God, forever.
There is so much more that could be said. What do you think natural disasters say about God? Are they his judgments, signs of his indifference, or evidence to his non-existence? Maybe none of those. Comment below and tell me.
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