So they are saying that 10,000 people died in the typhoon that hit the Philippines. Can you even fathom that? It’s a half full hockey area, roughly. When I read numbers like that in the same sentence as the word “died” I kind of automatically shut down and decide to think about something else. My brain finds it difficult to compute. My heart doesn’t have the capacity for the level of grief that such a situation requires. My spirit rages at the seeming injustice. I look heavenward and give God the stink eye.
Seriously, what the hell?
One could say the same about cancer. In fact many people have. To me. And I’ve thought it once or twice. But here is what I’m coming to understand little by little. God is going to bring about justice one day. He is going to make right all that is wrong. He is coming to rescue us. Sometimes I question this as we all do. Why not now? Why not in this way or that? Why does anyone have to suffer? Why so much blood spilled? Why can the bad people…the really bad ones triumph, ever? Why does the weather get to take out thousands of people? Why miscarriages? Why devastating injuries? Why cancer? Just fix it. God can fix it – why doesn’t He? And quickly before the next terrible thing happens!!
If you think I have easy answers here, go read something else. I’m just a person who frets and fumbles around like everyone does. But I do have, for whatever reason, at this particular time, a surprisingly solid amount of hope and trust in God. And, here’s what I think:
-We can’t know the full truth, the full extent of the reasons for these things. So don’t think you can grasp it fully. I’m pretty sure we can’t.
-We do know that God is good. One because scripture says so, but also from a logical perspective, we can conclude that if He created us and everything, He is the standard. The creatED cannot judge the creatOR soundly. He says He’s good. He makes the “rules” if you will. From our limited human perspective we cannot rightly approach the throne of God and say “You there, your plan doesn’t fit the Hallmark movie with the happy ending I imagined myself living so therefore 1. You are bad and maybe even 2. I no longer believe in you.” That’s dumb, right? I mean it just doesn’t make sense. If you don’t want to believe in or follow God because you don’t like how things are going…it’s like saying soccer doesn’t exist because you didn’t win your game. There are more logical reasons to not believe in God (I would argue that, ultimately, they don’t hold up logically, but if you’re going to quit believing or never start – come to the table with something a little more interesting than “I don’t like how things are going.” Lame.)
-It’s possible that there is another belief system that is more representative of the absolute truth of the universe/life/etc. But here’s why I don’t buy them. They all either have 1. a relative truth like “my truth is x and yours is y and we’re all ok.” or 2. require us to follow particular rules to achieve some ultimately good thing: enlightenment, zen, heaven of some form, your own planet – yup, thats a thing. On the first point, it does not resonate with me that what is true “for me” is not true “for you.” We can perceive things differently and we might conclude certain things differently. But one of us is right, or neither is. If our views are diametrically opposed, we cannot both be correct. If there is a group of goldfish, and I say there are 7 and you say there are 9, we can’t both be right – one of us counted wrong. Or maybe we both did. But there is a correct answer. My thought is – lets try to find it and not be jerks to each other in the process. Secondly, It does not resonate with me that we can earn our way to heaven. Follow rules and receive X. You know what people do with rules? Figure out how to get whoever is charge to believe they are following the rules while bending or breaking them as much as we think we can, undetected. I.e. it’s ok if you don’t get caught. Or only do it on the weekends. We manipulate our way around rules. We do the bare minimum. We don’t follow them full-heartedly rejoicing in the glory these wonderful rules bring us. We plod along begrudgingly, hedging our bets on what we think we can reasonably get away with and then label ourselves a “basically good person” and hope that whoever is in charge…God, Buddha, Oprah…will agree. You see how that’s kind of crazy, right? It simply can’t be about rules. God is smarter than that..
-So what’s it about then, if not rules? Well, I say it’s about trusting God. And that’s about it. He doesn’t want our thinly veiled good behavior. He wants our authentic hearts – messy, broken and wounded as they may be – following after Him believing He’s got this figured out better than we do with our terribly limited perspective from our pinpoint on the globe and on the timeline of history.
Look, if The Bible is true, and I do think it is, ( it’s fine if you don’t) it tells us that God’s way of saving us from our selfish, messed up, manipulative selves is to lovingly sacrifice the greatest thing He had to give – His son. (Are you tempted to quit reading here? I would be. I know it may have started to sound cliche and boring there if you’ve spent any time around weird Christians who spout the Jesus died for you stuff without warning. But give me a chance here.)
The Jesus died for you part…It’s Him saying “look how much I love you.”
Do you have kids? Would you ever send them to the cross for someone else? Nope. That’s crazy-level love. Unfathomable. Just like we don’t “get” the cancer, the typhoon, the unemployment, the pimple the day of the prom…we don’t get God’s ways. But we can be confident that in all things, He works for the good if those who love Him. Because He gave His son.
A little preachy today, I know. You don’t have to buy it. It’s wrought with questions and “what about…”. It’s taken me about half my life thinking about these things to come to this particular place. And its not even close to the whole truth. The Bible says that we now see, but like we’re looking through a glass darkly. We see some, clouded, but not all. We squint, fumble for the light switch, ask our neighbor what they see. We get frustrated and put the glass down. We shut our eyes and are content to just listen instead thinking we’ll never see it right. We give up. But I say, keep squinting. It’s worth the trouble.