It's days like this when I find myself wondering in what my faith lies.
It's days like this, when the concept of a loving, sovereign God, a concept that is hugely important in the area where I currently live, doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
It's days like this, when I am faced with my own selfishness because I think "I'm glad it didn't happen here."
Many people will be writing, commenting, and tweeting about the Moore, OK tornado. There's nothing about this post that may say anything new, or different. But that's what writers do--we write. Some of us will write to comfort others, some of us will write in a feeble attempt to make sense of it all, some of us will write because we arrogantly believe we know why these things happen, some of us will write simply to try to process the thoughts and feelings we have. Some people will be insensitive and say stupid things. Some people will ignore it completely.
Many people will bring up the suffering in the book of Job, how he had everything taken away, as if that is somehow supposed to be a comfort. When I first read Job in college, and learned that his suffering was a result of a bet between God and Satan, I didn't know what to think. I still don't. And Job never did learn the reason why he suffered; he only knew that he did. If it was me, what would I think? Probably something like, "Gee, thanks for having so much confidence in my faith, God, but don't you think you could have toned it down a bit?"
When tragedies happen that are caused by humans, it's easier to understand them. We can blame sin, brokenness, sickness for weaving its way into the strands of our lives. But when no person is to blame, then who can we blame? Do we blame God? Even asking that seems blasphemous. But that is what I wondered, yesterday, when I cried at the reports that two elementary schools were hit. That is what I wondered when I saw video and photo of the destruction. That is what I wondered when I heard it was an F4 tornado with 200+ mph winds.
I was angry. And I wondered why. And I was reminded of a troubling verse in Isaiah, in which God's sovereignty is extended even to the bad things in this world.
- KJV Isaiah 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
- NIV Isaiah 45:7 I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.
- NRS Isaiah 45:7 I form light and create darkness, I make weal and create woe; I the LORD do all these things
Evil. Disaster. Woe. And God claims that they all come from Him.
My friend Yaakov explained to me one time, that in context, what is happening here is that God is explaining that there are not other, lesser gods for each activity. He is it. On an exegetical level, I get that. It is the superiority of the God of Israel to the gods of any surrounding nations. On a level of having faith in a loving God, I have a very difficult time understanding it. I want to run to the verses of peace and love and harmony and no tears and no sickness. I want to just parrot that I trust in God's goodness, even when that trust falters.
And yet, mixed in with the disturbing aspect of this verse, there are the good things: God forming light. God bringing peace, prosperity, or weal (well-being). The good and the bad are mixed in together, mixed up together, coexisting.
We can't answer why. We can only grieve and weep and help, and let the goodness shine through, even though they may at first seem like tiny pinpricks of light in the darkness. We can see the kingdom of heaven spreading through like yeast in dough, coming from unexpected places and people.
It's days like this, when people of all faiths and no faith will come together to work for the good of humanity.
It's days like this when Republicans and Democrats will forget, for a moment, their disdain and hatred for one another's ideals, and seek to help others.
It's days like this, when differences are put aside, I see this partial verse from Galatians coming into play: "So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all".
It's days like this, when all seems hopeless, that people give each other hope, that love for other human beings can be shown without regard to who they are, where they come from, what their status in life is.
Perhaps, in this horrific event, we will see just who does exemplify the fruits of the spirit. We will be able to identify who is following Jesus' command to love one another. We will see God's goodness still.