Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Feeling Pinkie Keen”
(First off…yes, I’m backpedaling to Season One. I felt this episode had another message in it…)
Last Friday, over 120 people in Paris, France lost their lives in a horrendous tragedy as a result of a coordinated terrorist attack on the city. Terrible and horrifying…and only one of several acts of terrorism that happen around the world rather regularly. In the United States alone was the Boston Marathon Bombing, the Denver Movie Shooting, the Fort Hood Shooting, and, of course, the infamous 9/11 attacks, but these are, unfortunately, little compared to constant acts of terrorism, violence, and even attempted genocide in Syria, Iraq, Sudan, the Central African Republic, Nigeria, and (sadly) many more.
This is just in the modern day and as a result of human action. There’s far worse than that throughout history. Catastrophic flooding…violent hurricanes…tsunamis and earthquakes…all natural disasters that take a terrible toll on the lives of anyone in their path. And of course there’s the worst of the man-made mass killings such as the Holocaust and the genocide of Native Americans.
Yet as tragic as many of these events are, with death tolls and lives and property destroyed in such extremes that most people can’t even comprehend it, what really ends up impacting the people the most is what happens right in front of us. Like a child dying before they reach the age of 2. Or having a stillborn baby. Or losing a teenage son in a car accident. Or going through a disaster that costs a job, a car, a home, or even permanent use of one’s body.
Tragedy is a part of life. For those who have yet to experience it, please be thankful and grateful. There are thousands of people in the world who would trade absolutely everything they have for five more minutes with a loved one.
But for those of us who have experienced tragedy and sadness, especially of the most gut-wrenching and heart-tearing quality, or even those who simply turn on the news and hear these horror stories, there is likely one question that comes to mind even if we never voice it.
“Why did God let this happen?”
God loves us, doesn’t he? Doesn’t Luke 12: 6-7 read, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.”? Doesn’t Psalm 91:1-16 read, “Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—the Most High, who is my refuge—no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.”? We are precious in the sight of God, aren’t we? Then why did all of this happen? If God cares, why do we see this death and horror? Why do so many miserable things happen? Why didn’t God do something about this?
People have wondered why God allows suffering in this world since before the Bible was formally put together. It’s the main topic of the Book of Job, the oldest book of the Old Testament. And thousands of years later people still wonder about this and many other “troubling passages” in the Bible. Such as how does the Bible reconcile with all biology has discovered in regards to the age of the Earth, the universe, and the process of evolution. Or why, no doubt, innocent babies died along with the rest of the first born in Exodus.
Over the years I’ve heard all sorts of answers to these things. Some draw on specific quotes from the Bible and analyze specific choices of wording. Some say that because we are in a “broken world” we suffer evil as a natural consequence. Some say that the reason God is never present is because modern society has “banned God”. Still others say it’s because the victim in these situations still isn’t showing proper faith. And still others say that things will work out for the greater good if one keeps their eyes on God.
Speaking personally, it’s all too rare that I hear the answer that I feel is the most honest, and is the same one that Twilight Sparkle presented in this episode when faced with something she just couldn’t “figure out” no matter how hard she tried.
“I don’t know.”
Odds are if I’m in mourning or despair or troubled, I don’t want someone coming to me, beating their Bible, and proclaiming some great profound truth to me or telling me to have more faith in God and my misery will be taken away. I want someone…I need someone…to admit they don’t know the answer anyway but they’ll be there just to, as Romans 12:15 says, “weep with those who weep”.
I feel Christians sometimes feel the pressure to know everything. They have to have an answer for everything that seems to contradict their faith, and when they do come up with an answer, they have to enforce it and rigorously promote it to ensure it is accepted and enforced. They feel to not have the answer is to somehow either lessen the prestige of God or the Bible, or to discount their own faith. As if there was anything in the Bible that ever said Christians should know everything God does (although there are several passages that explicitly say that people can’t know everything God does…).
To me…part of being a Christian is having faith. And faith isn’t faith if it can be fully explained. Furthermore, the faith that we possess isn’t about knowing all the answers to whatever God is doing at the time. It’s about helping each other to get through everything that happens in this world. Of being able to strengthen each other when all the darkness and evil around us threatens to crush us and our spirits.
I have experienced more spirituality and Grace of God through an individual’s kind gestures, compassion, understanding, and acceptance of who I am than I have ever obtained from a sermon about the problem of evil in the world. I know God exists not because I read it in a book but because I saw the Word “come to life” in others. And it was always in people I never thought were “above me”, “holier than thou”, or offered “ultimate truth” to my own nagging questions. They had passages of the Bible that they chose to believe in…to have faith in, yes, and they encouraged me by telling me about them. But they didn’t give me a “pat answer”. In doing so, they helped me by letting me know I wasn’t alone in my thinking, and also that they were genuine.
Admitting you don’t know the answer to everything is a form of admission and humility. Admitting that you are not yet “made perfect” but that you are willing to go on faith; and being humble enough to not believe you have absolute truth. As a result, such a Christian, to me, is more “human” and relatable than one who heralds themselves as a Biblical scholar…and also someone I’d rather talk to when I’m in a time of mourning; assuming I even feel like talking at all.
By simply being there for a friend or loved one who is grieving, not offering advice or verses but simply “weeping with them”, perhaps we’re demonstrating the Love of God more than we realize…showing that he is there at our side while we mourn and always ready to give a shoulder to cry upon. That might be the best “silent sermon” of all.
Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, in times of misery, tragedy, fear, and doubt, please deliver me from the need to always ‘have all the answers’ and simply be as Christ to those who need me to be. And when misery comes to me, I choose to have faith in your love and presence even when I can’t feel it at the moment. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”