Sunday, March 18, 2018


Sunday Reflection: Slipping off the road

On Friday, I found myself driving on a dangerous road. There was no obvious place to pull over and stop, and suddenly there were wrecks everywhere: a car that had slid under wires, two that had smashed into one another head-on, one in a ravine wrapped around a tree, and another where a boy looked out a broken car window, bleeding from the head, as a man tried to help him.

I slowed to a crawl. My car is a good one, with decent winter tires and all-wheel drive, and still I could feel the tires slipping and adjusting. There was a bit of panic inside of me, rising with each slip. Soon I was barely moving.

The thought came into my head that the car might just start slipping sideways, and I would be helpless. We would drift and slide and fall, unable to correct the course.

It didn't happen. I set my eyes straight ahead, went slowly, kept my hands on the wheel, and we passed through that dangerous area in a few miles. But still...

Is that what happens to some people? A terrible thing-- a great sadness, a mental illness, a catastrophic health failure-- takes hold of them, and then there is no grip, no control.

My dad wrote about a moment like that on his own blog last year. 

Where is God in that moment?

I know that some who survive give God credit for that. We don't know the view of those who died. But I do wonder if that is a moment of free will, or one of divine intervention; and if it is the latter, is that a moment of helplessness in a way?

There has been too much death around lately.

I have always appreciated the answer a man gave, who's child had passed away, when he was asked, "where is God when bad things happen to good people?"

"I don't know where God was that day. But I have to have faith in the idea that a God who goes to the cross to die for his children, is a good God. Beyond that, I don't have any answers."

Others have said similar things.

The cross of Christ is no answer to the one who wants a logical answer, (often conservative fundamentalists who have backed themselves into a logical corner.)

But it may be everything to the one in the midst of tragedy.
My answer to "where is God when bad things happen to good people?" has always been, "I don't know if God is the reason why bad things happen, but I do know that God is my way through those bad things when they happen to me."

And the author Donna Meisbach wrote, "One of the things I’ve learned is that you have to let go of how you think things should be so you can be open to God’s plan for you. Eventually you begin to understand everything is exactly the way it should be at a particular moment. True, you may be hurting like crazy — emotionally, physically, or some other way — but at that particular moment, this is exactly the way things need to be so you can learn what you need to learn, so you can grow in the way you need to grow.

It's true that faith is no answer for someone who wants a logical answer. But we know what we know in ways outside logic. I know that Jesus went to that cross for me. It is personal and direct to ME. He died a horrific death so that this little girl born in Port Arthur, Texas, almost 2,000 years later would know the grace and utter joy of salvation.
Your post here reminded me of this from Frederick Buechner, on the subject of "Disaster":

ON THE EVENING OF THE DAY the World Trade Center was destroyed by terrorists, a service was hastily improvised in one of the largest New York churches, where crowds of both believers and nonbelievers came together in search of whatever it is people search for at such times--some word of reassurance, some glimmer of hope.

"At times like these," the speaker said, "God is useless."

When I first heard of it, it struck me as appalling, and then it struck me as very brave, and finally it struck me as true.

When horrors happen we can't use God to make them unhappen any more than we can use a flood of light to put out a fire or Psalm 23 to find our way home in the dark.

All we can do is to draw close to God and to each other as best we can, the way those stunned New Yorkers did, and to hope that, although God may well be useless when all hell breaks loose, there is nothing that happens, not even hell, where God is not present with us and for us.

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