Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Where is God?

I've heard that question asked quite a few times ever since the Indonesian tsunami of 2004, and even more since hurricane Katrina destroyed the Gulf Coast. Where is God, indeed.

I am neither an atheist nor an evangelical. I lie trapped somewhere in between, with a large percentage of believers and doubters, who simply are trying to understand our beliefs and find some evidence to reinforce them.

There are those who believe God has a hand in day to day life and can intervene when necessary, those who believe that God has a plan that is already known, those who believe everything happens for a reason, and those who believe that this life is left up to us and God does not interfere with things of this world.

The problem lies in the fact that the only comforting belief right now is the latter, and yet the Bible itself teaches only the former.

The Bible, both old and new testaments, is filled with the teachings of answered prayer and miracles - as well as the wrath of God. What it does not teach is that God is ambivalent and has a "hands-off" policy towards the lives of mankind. So to see an elderly person, who is a true believer, praying for her life, while friends and family also pray for her deliverance from the storm, die the horrific death of drowning as she watched, terrified, as the waters rose in her own home and slowly eclipsed her head, and then had her lifeless bloated body float undignified in the stagnant water for days... simply begs the question: Where is God?

Was this part of a plan? Did she pray any less than those who were spared? If God could intervene, why did he not for her?

For the strong in faith, there will be the usual replies: "We don't know God's plan," and "God had a reason," and "It was a test of faith." Why test the faith of a lifelong Christian woman, at age 80, by confronting her with an inhumane test almost no person could endure? Meanwhile, others are "Thanking God" for saving them while their neighbors all perished. Did God really have a hand in this? And if so, why? Many of those who lived are by no means "more Christian" than some who perished. Is this God's doing - or God's doing nothing?

The answer to that question, or even an answer that might seem slightly acceptable, is so utterly beyond my comprehension that I can't help but believe God surely must not intervene in worldly affairs. It's the only way I can even think about carrying on with any level of faith. And yet my intellectual side acknowledges that this then is in conflict with the actual teachings in the Bible. In the end, my knowledge and belief of God hasn't been improved by current events or explanations of them.

As one of my dear friends often tells me, my relationship with God needs to be a personal one and my burdens will become so much lighter if I put my trust in Him and accept that He loves me. I don't disagree that this would be the case - but as any relationship counselor will tell you, communication has to go both ways.

It would be really nice if that were the case.



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