A friend from high school sent me a facebook message the other night and her question gets at something I think that many of us struggle with. We each wonder about these things and reconcile it within us in different ways.
“Hey Narcie I hope you are doing well. I am sitting home tonight watching a special on 9/11. I’m not trying to question God but how did all those good people die that day? There are a lot of bad people in this world and they are still here. I know you aren’t suppose to question God. I just don’t understand and thought you could help me. Thanks for your time.”
“I think God is big enough for all of our questions and that God welcomes those questions. Faith is faith, but it’s not blind faith where if you question – than you’re wrong or punished or unfaithful. We all have times of questioning God, especially whether God is good all the time or why terrible things happen or even just the mildly sucky things. I believe (and thankfully the United Methodist Church/Wesleyan theology believes) that God is good. God is a loving and just God and those two things can both be true. That when Adam and Eve made their choices in the garden and sin entered the world, that with that came free will and our choices for good and bad. That free will means that sometimes really evil people do terrible things – like crash planes into buildings or kidnap people, etc. It also means that all of creation is fallen as well – ie. earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. Remember that text where Jesus is on a boat in the storm, and he “rebukes” the wind and the waves? If you were in control of everything, you wouldn’t have to rebuke it, right? It’s not saying that God can’t do whatever God wants – God is God. All powerful, all knowing, all present. God can paint the sky purple with green stripes if God wants. But it does to me mean that God doesn’t directly cause everything to happen. God is not some puppet master. God let’s us make choices and the people around us make choices, and consequences arise from those choices.
That doesn’t mean that God doesn’t work good out of the situations – because God does work things together for good. That doesn’t mean that God doesn’t care. Because God cares intimately about all of us. God wants to love and be in relationship with every single one of us. God hurt with those people. God hurts with the families still grieving. God is present with us in all the good, the bad, and the ugly.
That also doesn’t mean that God’s turning a blind eye and just set this thing in motion and then walked away. Now – I do wonder why God “allows” some things to happen and others not to. Or why it seems that God answers some prayers or miracles happen in some places, but not others. But I also know that we don’t always understand everything and that what we think are answers aren’t always…as well that consequences are consequences, even if it’s something we had nothing to do with. Yes, it’s not fair and yes, it sucks sometimes. And I think it’s fine if we say that. God knows that we feel that way. It’s not like we’re fooling God. God knows what we’re thinking and our hearts. And it’s not like people go around cheering saying, “Heck yes, I have cancer!” or “Isn’t it awesome that God made my husband cheat on me.” But we do wonder, why these things happen and how all of this works. We wonder about order and control and what all of it means. What I know for sure and for certain, our God is a God who loves us. God wants to know us. God doesn’t cause hurtful things to happen, but God walks with us and gives us encouragement and strength and grace and peace and perseverance in the midst of it all.
And the most beautiful thing for me – is that good does continue to win. Good does continue to conquer. And it happens all the time. Maybe not in ways that we want or expect, but eventually, sooner or later – God wins. Evil is defeated. Whether in this life or the next – evil is no more. And that’s pretty freakin awesome. When I go on trips or hear people’s stories and I see people who have had absolutely no reason to believe in God because they’ve had a cruddy time of it and yet they continue to persevere and believe – it’s amazing to me. I think that’s awesome. It’s a witness to us all. I also though think it’s awesome that we have a God that wants to know us and welcomes us as we are – whether angry, sad, questioning, frustrated or anything else. We each have adversity to deal with, some of us more visible than others, but we keep pushing through trusting in grace and love – even when we doubt the heck out of it.
Hope that makes sense. Prayers as we all wrestle with this today and in all that we do.”
What do you think? How would you answer the question?