Sunday, May 4, 2014
Recently I've heard people talking about tragedy and how it relates to "God's plan." It goes something like this, "I know [tragedy] happened but I also know that it's part of God's plan."
If I may be so bold, I'd like to address this by saying - No it's not.
Many of you know my life story, many of you don't. My father died just before I was two years old and my mom was pregnant with my younger sister. Talk about getting your world rocked. Subsequently, I've dealt with a number of other losses of people I know and love. All throughout my life I've seen people leave this earth in less than pleasant ways, sometimes way sooner than is normal. People try to comfort those who have lost by saying stuff like "It's part of God's plan," "God must have needed another angel," and the like.
Quite frankly, that's bullcrap.
My personal understanding of God's providence does not include God taking my father in a car crash while my mother, unborn sister, and myself were left without a person to fill such a vital role. It is not God's plan for people to get cancer, suffer terribly, and die early. It's simply not. Now, I don't just think this because the idea of God causing these things is troublesome to me, I think this because the Bible informs me so.
Let's start at the beginning. In Eden, we see God's real plan for humanity. Perfection. Shalom - nothing is missing, nothing is broken. That is God's plan. Unfortunately, we messed that up and we now live in a fallen world due to sin. Now, God can make anything beautiful out of what is ugly. So, when we did sin and fall, He made a way for us to come back into relationship with Him. However, it was not His intention for us to disobey Him.
Later on, when the Israelites rebel against God, He punishes them by means of other nations and invasions. The interesting thing is, God always ends up punishing these other nations for the violence they do against Israel as well. So it's saying that God makes Assyria and other nations attack Israel only to punish them for obeying Him? I don't think so. I think that these nations were hungry for expansion, God gives people the will to choose what they do, and so God used an already bloodthirsty nation to fulfill His need to punish Israel. However, it was still that nation's decision. God can make anything work for His glory.
Think of the countless saints who unfortunately died early in life, but think about the impact that their lives made on this world. Martyrs have inspired others to stronger faith for centuries, and sometimes even when a death is not because of persecution, that person's life makes a huge impact on this world. I saw this most recently with a young man who was in a youth group I worked with. He died due to heart complications one night while running. However, you should have seen the response of others to this. His life was one of such witness and love that he will be inspiring men and women for years to come, despite it being so short due to living in a fallen world where heart conditions and sickness exist.
In my own story, a man came along and became my father when I needed one, and has loved me unconditionally from the day he took on that challenge.
So is tragedy a part of God's plan? I don't think so. That's the result of living in an imperfect world where Satan still operates today. Did God need another angel? Nope. God doesn't need anyone, although He desires us strongly. Furthermore, we don't become angels. Nowhere in scripture can that idea be found. That is nothing more than commercialized Christianity.
I realize I'm kind of dogging on all those "feel good" things out there and sound a bit like a downer. But stop and think. Would you really rather hold the opinion that God gave someone cancer, or a heart condition, or took my father away in a car accident?
In all reality, I present this viewpoint in order to give a better understanding of tragedy and pain. Many have left faith because they have blamed God for allowing or even causing such things. I've already stated why I don't think He causes it. In terms of allowing, I present this final thought that I've used before in blogs, but it is so fitting.
"...Jesus isn't magic. Jesus is human. Jesus is the very incarnation of God; He's God with us - to bring us not magic but accompaniment, not "healing"...but salvation...any healing that is more than a temporary solution - that is, in other words, transformation...demands deep accompaniment. It demands that another enter into my world and bear my suffering, not to magically take it away but to die with me if needed...The cross reveals this Jesus: not a magical one but a suffering one, not a God who takes away pain but a God who joins us in it."
Are there more questions? Yes there are. Do I have all the answers? Not at all.
At the end of the day though, this gives me rest. I know that despite what happens in this life, "precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His faithful servants" (Psalm 116:15) because they no longer have to suffer in this fallen world. God holds them in His hand in a place so much better.
Root, Andrew, and Kenda C. Dean. The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2011. Print.