A colleague on Facebook recently posted an interview with Rob Bell, the pastor of Mars Hill Church, who is taking much heat for his book, “Love Wins” in which he contends eventually God will get everyone into heaven. The interviewer opened with the question, “Is God all powerful and does nothing about Japan, meaning he is not all loving or is God loving but not all powerful, unable to stop the suffering in Japan?” Bell answered that whenever our hearts hurt for someone that God’s heart hurts too. I agree but he didn’t really answer the question.
But neither did I agree with what I see as a false dichotomy presented by the interviewer. Who said God is not acting in Japan right now? I am confident that God is very actively at work in the midst of this crisis. What the interviewer really meant was, “Why didn’t God stop the tsunami or prevent the waves from damaging the nuclear plant?” In other words, “Why didn’t God do the things we would want him to do?” The answer can only be, “We are not God and we do not understand. Nevertheless, God is all powerful and all loving.”
For me, numbers are irrelevant when it comes to questions like this. It is no less a theological crisis when 10,000 die by nature than when one set of parents grieve over the SIDS death of a baby. Sometimes God acts and miracles happen. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. We do not understand and I don’t think we will on this side of eternity. Nevertheless, what happens in this world is not the end and we know what will happen for God’s people in the end. Love does win for God’s people (now how many of us are God’s people is the real matter of debate).
Humanity wants answers. I do not view this as sinful. People from Job to David in the Psalms, to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane asked God “Why?” We sometimes will too as long as we live. I don’t think God would expect any less from his people.
But after asking the question, we need to roll up our sleeves and ask, “Now what should I do Lord?”
And this very much applies to the situation in Japan.
Until next time,