There are certain dates we are asked to remember and observe, such as:
- December 7th
- June 6th
- Veteran’s Day
- Memorial Day
There are certain events that happen, such as the tsunami in 2004, the worst in history killing 230,000 people in Asia and Indonesia. And more recent ones in Japan in 2007 and 2011.
These are events that make the world stop and ask why? What did those people do to deserve that? But we don’t have much time to stop and think too long because we have to get on with our own busy lives and responsibilities.
That is until a tsunami sweeps into our personal lives and touches our family.
And then we spend a little longer asking the important questions such as:
- Why did this happen to me?
- What will I do now?
- Does anybody care?
And then we ask the risky questions – perhaps to ourselves:
- Where was God?
- If God is all-powerful, why didn’t He…?
- Or maybe God is loving, but not all-powerful?
- Or maybe, He isn’t all-powerful or loving?
And here is another question:
Does God allow or cause bad things to happen?
Think about that question. If He allows them, then what kind of god is He?
If on the other hand He causes them, then what does this imply? He doesn’t care…He is cruel… He is your worst enemy (like being cornered by a pack of hungry wolves in a dark alley).
These all lead us to the ultimate questions:
WHO IS GOD?
CAN HE BE TRUSTED?
You see, people of all faith / religions struggle with these questions. In the recent Tsunami, people of different religions were asked what they thought of God:
Here were some of their answers:
- There is no god
- God is not powerful
- God just doesn’t care
- God is out there, but not personal or concerned with the happenings of the world
- God is there to comfort the people
- It is a punishment from God
- It’s like a parent butchering her own children
How would you answer?
In the midst of human tragedy, pain or unexplained suffering, whether it be personal or impersonal, we stop to ask questions.
But the real question we wrestle with isn’t, “Where is God?” but “Who is God?”
When we are kids growing up, we experience pain, but we don’t think much about it. And if we grow up in church and go to Sunday school, then we learn some really nice things about God.
But the God we learn about there may seem very different from the God we think we knew as kids as we experience tragedies, pain and suffering. And when we are asked to explain why our loving grandmother is suffering from such decay due to cancer, we really don’t know. And we wonder, “Where is God?” Really we are asking, “Who is God?”
A friend of mine who had been an addict and homeless for years, who now lives in Carlisle told me the story about a young woman who is in one of his AA groups. She saw him at Walmart and offered him a ride home. He got in, he saw that she had a young baby in the back of the car. When she dropped him off, he said “thanks for the ride and isn’t God good giving you the life of a new baby?” She said, “Oh, I don’t believe in God.” He didn’t know what to say. So he just got out and went home.
He asked me, “what should I have said?”
It isn’t about what he should have said, is it? It is about something that happened in her life – a tsunami that blew into her life – that caused her to question, then doubt, and then not believe at all in a good God.
You see, we can’t nor should we hide our heads in the proverbial sand of our Sunday school teachings about God and ignore the reality of our world that is filled with pain, death, and unexplained suffering.
But this is the only world we know.
But back in Genesis 1 and 2, creation was both awesome and perfect. God said so Himself! When the creation account closes, He says, “everything was very good.”
And in these chapters, there is harmony in nature…between what was created and all living things…between man and woman…between them and God. It was the world just as you would hope it to be in your wildest imagination!
But then a serpent crashes the party and gets Adam and Eve to look at things differently and question what God had said.
Now, you can say this account is just a myth or an old wives-tale. And that is your choice. But I would suggest to you, even if you don’t want to take this story literally (which many good Christians don’t!), you might want to explore this story more in depthly on your own. But this is where Christians get their first view of sin and this is the place where they begin to explain the brokenness we all see in our world.
You have two people along with God who are in perfect union. And by the end of chapter 3, everything is different and nothing would be the same again.
Eve would question God and follow her own desires and eat the forbidden fruit from the forbidden tree – Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil. She gave her husband some to eat as well. This triggered events that would change their world forever. Among the things they would encounter were:
- Their eyes were opened to evil…
- They realized they were naked (lacking)…
- They were ashamed…
- They were insecure and had need to cover themselves…
- They ran and hid from God…
- Fear entered their world…
- They blamed each other…
From here, God put a curse on the woman for great pain in childbirth and her husband would rule her.
God cursed the man by cursing the ground – this may explain why it is so easy to grow weeds and so hard to grow anything good!
God then made them garments (clothes) and threw them out of the Garden of Eden. Paradise was lost.
If this were just a story of what happened back then, it would be sad enough. But this story has a trickle down effect. It begins with two of their kids, Cain and Abel. Cain becomes insanely jealous and kills his brother. And we see many of the effects talked about in this story in our lives and in our broken world today…
- Selfishness that leads to wars and killing
- Children from birth don’t need to be taught to do wrong
- Kids don’t need to be taught to lie
- We see pollution and corruption in nature and every aspect of life
- People betray one another
- Spouses blame, hide from one another and never talk about real issues
Here may be the worse part – we all know the world isn’t as it should be. We all know something isn’t quite right.
We don’t need laws to tell us that molesting a child is wrong or taking something that doesn’t belong to us is wrong. We know that.
When we see a tsunami, no one needs to tell us that it is wrong that 230,000 innocent people are killed.
You see, there is no answer that will emotionally satisfy us. Explanations are rational and logical, but where we really feel something is wrong is in our emotions – in our gut!
That won’t ever fully go away. But I think we need to understand that this theme of brokenness runs throughout the rest of God’s story – and brokenness is a part of your journey. You know that, because you feel broken inside because you know not only is the world not right (you have the knowledge of good and evil), but you know inside you everything isn’t as it should be.
Perhaps what we see here in Genesis, and then what we see throughout the Old Testament from Abraham to Moses to Samuel to the Prophets and then to Jesus is that God takes disobedience and sin more seriously than we do.
Maybe we don’t think of it this way, but perhaps God hates things not being right in our world and inside of you even more than we do.
You see we live with this tension --knowing about good and evil -- as how things should be and how they really are
For many people, this is the cause of their greatest pain – what could or should be! Perhaps these cause God great pain as well.
None of us are exempt from hearing the tragic news daily about world events and none of us are exempt from personal problems and tragedies. And we are left to wonder, “Who is God?”
Most of the bible is a story about that answer – who is God? Most of the bible is about men and women encountering this God and experiencing in many different facets who He is. The bible also gives us room today to experience Him and answer that question for ourselves.
Questions to reflection upon…
- How do you answer the question, “Who is God?”
- How would you help someone in need see that God loves them and is good?