PICTURE GOD as he:
- sits on a cloud
- watches a shooter kill kindergarten children
- does nothing about it.
Who wants to worship a god like that?
Heck, who wants to give him a capital G?
Anyone in heaven or on earth who has the power to stop the shooter but does nothing—that entity is as evil or as deranged as the shooter.
So it surely seems.
Is god out of his mind? Out of goodness? Out of power?
Maybe he’s taking a pee.
That’s what the prophet Elijah said of Baal, the god of Queen Jezebel. Baal didn’t bother to unleash his alleged power to send fire from the sky when Jezebel’s prophets prayed for it.
“I’m sure Baal is a god!” Elijah taunted. “Perhaps he has too much to think about. Or maybe he has gone to the toilet” (1 Kings 18:27, NIRV).
If the Bible dumps that kind of criticism on do-nothing gods, why should our god be immune when he does nothing?
Christians, this is our Achilles Heel—a god who looks very much like a heel.
This is our most damning weakness, provoking our toughest question.
If god is good and all-powerful, why doesn’t he put his money where our mouth is?
It defies logic to insist he is either good or all-powerful.
Maybe it’s time for us to admit that there is no logic to our faith in tragic times.
Faith in a good and powerful God makes logical sense only in good times, if then.
In times of horror, we retreat to clichés.
“God’s ways are higher than our ways.”
What else is there to say?
We don’t know why a good God doesn’t step into human history and stop bullets.
If we’re made in his image, he should, because we would. We’ve been known to fall on grenades.
But he doesn’t.
Here’s the simple fact. We Christians give God the benefit of the doubt—sometimes only after calming down and apologizing for telling him what he can do with his capital G.
In our saner moments, we figure that anyone who could create such a wonderful universe so exquisitely designed—from microscopic particles to telescopic galaxies—must have a plan.
There’s a story in the Bible that suggests he does. It’s about a man born blind. Jesus’ disciples asked why the man was born that way.
“This man was born blind so that God’s power could be shown in him,” Jesus said. Then Jesus healed the man and said, “I am the light of the world” (John 9:3 NCV).
Should we start trying to figure out God’s plan, looking on the bright side of homicide?
I don’t know about that. It doesn’t feel right to tell the parent of a dead child that God is going to work this all out.
Maybe a better approach would be to consider the hypocrisy of criticizing God.
Much of the suffering around us is of our own doing—many cures lie within our reach.
We build cities on flood plains, fault lines, and tornado alleys—then we shake our fists at God when we discover the buildings can’t survive floods, quakes, or tornadoes.
We grow crops with pesticides, sell them with preservatives, and then moan about acid reflux and diseases up the wazoo.
We sell guns and ammo to just about anyone with a plastic card and we argue that if everyone had guns they could defend themselves, as though
- a kindergartener could pull a trigger
- and the right to bear arms is the Second Commandment instead of the Second Amendment, which was written by men wearing wigs 100 years before Wyatt Earp threw lead in the Gunfight at the OK Corral.
If by chance the freedom that God gives us to make choices includes the freedom to do stupid, hurtful, and horrifying things, maybe we should work on the flip side of freedom. Go for the smart, helpful, glorifying things.
So how about this: Since we can’t figure God out, why not take advantage of the God-given freedom we have to solve problems we accuse God of ignoring?
Once again, I find myself nodding in agreement to your words. With these words – Much of the suffering around us is of our own doing—many cures lie within our reach. – you are putting the responsibility where it lies.
God gives us freedom of choice, and He allows us to experience the consequences of our freedom of choice. Instead of acknowledging that we have responsibility for the consequences, we want to blame God for being absent or heartless. This is not the case.
I, for one, do not believe that God is not feeling sorrow over what happened Friday. I believe He is crying over the senseless loss of lives. I also believe that He is giving us a chance to solve these problems and is waiting to see what we will do from here.
Steve – thank you for having the guts to address this topic, and to address it with some tact and sensitivity. I would agree that most of our problems are of our own making…and the only thing I am sure of, the only thing I can cling to, is that that the god of my understanding is one of pure love. That’s all I know for sure..
I did some lamenting at our Bible Study last night from Lamentations 3 — we need to lament and then mourn! Great is God’s faithfulness, but first let me tell God how I feel…
3 I am one who has seen affliction
by the rod of the LORD’s wrath.
2 He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light;
3 indeed, he has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long.
4 He has made my skin and my flesh grow old and has broken my bones.
5 He has besieged me and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship.
6 He has made me dwell in darkness
like those long dead.
7 He has walled me in so I cannot escape;
he has weighed me down with chains.
8 Even when I call out or cry for help,
he shuts out my prayer.
9 He has barred my way with blocks of stone; he has made my paths crooked.
10 Like a bear lying in wait, like a lion in hiding,
11 he dragged me from the path and mangled me and left me without help.
12 He drew his bow and made me the target for his arrows.
13 He pierced my heart with arrows from his quiver.
14 I became the laughingstock of all my people; they mock me in song all day long.
15 He has filled me with bitter herbs
and sated me with gall.
16 He has broken my teeth with gravel;
he has trampled me in the dust.
17 I have been deprived of peace;
I have forgotten what prosperity is.
18 So I say, “My splendor is gone
and all that I had hoped from the LORD.”
19 I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
27 It is good for people to bear the yoke
while they are young.
28 Let them sit alone in silence, for the LORD has laid it on them.
29 Let them bury their faces in the dust—
there may yet be hope.
30 Let them offer their cheeks to one who would strike them, and let them be filled with disgrace.
31 For people are not cast off by the Lord forever.
32 Though he brings grief, he will show
compassion, so great is his unfailing love.
33 For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to any human being.
It is not for us to question, just trust