Monday, 14 March 2011
"What kind of God let's that happen?"
I love talking about my faith and I am always open to discussion on the subject. As I have said in a number of posts, I learn through discussions like this. Recently I have been discussing my beliefs with a close relative who is not a Christian. He is not in a good place emotionally or generally, and it breaks my heart to see him struggle and suffer, when I know he needs God in his life. Well, we all do, but some people just seem to be more needful than others if you know what I mean...
Anyway, it's interesting, as we have always had farily fesity 'debates' over the years, and this is something I know I cannot be too forceful on. He has to accept God for himself, I cannot 'persuade' him into believing, it has to be his choice. He raises lots of questions and is obviously 'seeking' but there are some things I just cannot answer. The age old question came out recently: 'what kind of God lets that happen...' usually brought up after a tragedy, personal or otherwise. Of course this time it was in relation to the earthquake/tsunami in Japan. 'What kind of God would let 10,000 people die in one go like that, just wiped out...? You can't tell me that they all deserved it' (which of course I would never say anyway) and then 'if you really believe that your God can step into any situation, why didn't he step in then?'
It's THE question isn't it? How does one respond to that? Particularly to a non-believer. I can't quote scripture as he doesn't recognise it (as in he doesn't recognise the bible as the word of God, he just thinks a 'moral code'..).
And the thing is I'm not sure how I feel about this question, and so I have no idea how to respond. I think I personally have got to a point, Job like, where I understand that God can intervene but doesn't always. That there will always be some mysteries, I am not God and therefore I cannot begin to imagine how or why He makes the decisions he does.
That said, I do have a couple of stock answers to this question, such as 'I believe God is sovereign and can intervene in all situations, but sometimes choses not to'. But then that just provokes an angry response such as 'what kind of God picks and choses like that...' Or the other is that 'we live in a fallen world and therefore sometimes that devil makes 'shit happen'.' Or another is that 'we have freedom of choice and our decisions sometimes cause stuff to happen, God cannot intervene in every situation or he would be a dictator'. But these do feel like pathetic responses in the face of what happened last Friday. In truth I have no idea why God would let something like that happen, to wipe out so many people in one go like that. I cannot begin to understand so how can I explain to someone else?
So what can one say in the face of tragedy? How can one explain why God would step into one situation and not another? How can one respond after so many tragic deaths like last week, or even just one tragic death? - to a mother whose 7 year old son has been killed in an accident? or to the husband whose wife is dying of cancer in her 30s? or to the woman saw her own brother die in the sea? What can one say?