Today we have the shootings in San Bernardino. A few days ago, we had the killings at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs.
The list could go on and on. It will go on and on. I don't see an end in sight at all for this.
Whenever tragedy strikes like this, one of the first questions we tend to ask is:
Why did God allow for this tragedy to happen? Do we really want to know the answer to that question? Are we prepared to delve into this topic? Are we willing to come to a conclusion when we wrestle with this subject?
When we explore this question, we might come to several conclusions:
- God doesn't really exist in the first place. No loving Creator would allow such tragedy to happen at all. We are responsible for this calamity ourselves.
- God does exist, but God doesn't care about what happens to us.
- God does exist. God cares about what has happened, but is incapable of helping us out.
- God is helping us out already, but not in the way we imagined it because God has placed us here to solve our problems and has already given us the tools to solve the issue.
I am certain that there are other answers that we could come up with.
At one point in my life, I had come to the conclusion that we were asking the wrong questions. If I knew why a tragedy happened, would that bring me any satisfaction or peace? Thinking about it logically, my answer was (and is), "no."
Unfortunately, tragedy has stuck me once again this year. Unbidden and unwelcome I yelled out to God, "Why?!" Looking at this, I was surprised at myself. I knew that I wouldn't be satisfied with the answer, but why was I asking it anyway?
Perhaps there is something primal in asking God, "Why?" I don't know.
When I look at the conclusions I had drawn, I get nervous exploring them. The reason I'm nervous exploring them is because they struggle with my own faith. They struggle with the foundations of my belief system.
If I were to assume that #1 were correct, that God doesn't exist anymore, that would indeed collapse my own worldview. However, it would be imprudent of me not to dismiss #1 outright. It is a legitimate answer and I have many friends and relatives who have come to that conclusion. Sometimes they have come to it joyfully with feelings of relief. Other times they come to that conclusion with great sadness, as if they have lost a loved one. I can imagine that many Christians are actually very scared to wrestle with the idea that God might not exist.
I know that there are many people who dismiss atheists as being amoral, but I have found this to be quite untrue and actually a bigoted view. I am a fan of Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye, and Hemant Mehta (the Friendly Atheist). They are all atheists and present a very moral view to our world.
If I were to assume that #2 were correct, that God exists but doesn't care, then this would collapse my whole understanding of the nature of God. Since I do believe that God's very nature is love and that God calls us to love, it would be wrong of me to assume that God doesn't care. If God doesn't care, then the Bible's message, indeed the Gospel message is a lie. If this were the case, many might stop worshiping God in the first place. Why would anyone want to follow a deity who didn't care about the tragedy that happens in our lives?
But what if God does care? Then why do these tragedies still happen? Could it be that God is powerless to do anything about it? If that is so, my conclusion with be #3. That would be a scary thing indeed! I would be basically worshiping an impotent God. I might as well be an atheist.
So, right now, I am left with conclusion #4: God does exist. God cares about these tragedies that are happening, but God has already given us the tools with which to combat these tragedies. There's a nice little meme that has been floating around for some time. I haven't been able to find the source of it or who said it originally, but it goes like this:
What's actually ironic is that no matter what conclusion we come up with (either #1, #2, #3, or #4), our responsibility is still the same. We can and do already have the means and the wherewithal to do something about the tragedies in our world. As a Christian, I believe God has given us his Holy Spirit to help us in our endeavors to make this world a better place.
We are all called right now to do something about these terrible tragedies. Governor Chris Murphy of Connecticut said it perhaps the best:
Your "thoughts" should be about steps to take to stop this carnage. Your "prayers" should be for forgiveness if you do nothing - again.— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) December 2, 2015
May we now be moved to action to stop the evil in this world. May we be moved to pity at the lives lost. May our prayers to God lead us into action as we combat the evil in our land.