Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Where Is God When It Hurts?

In the spring of 2007, a disturbed student at Virginia Tech chained some doors shut, killed thirty-two students and faculty members, then killed himself.

As part of a local church's attempt to help students and other residents start working through their shock, grief, and fear, author Philip Yancey was flown in to speak on the subject of one of his books, Where Is God When It Hurts?

Considering that some people may be asking that very question in the aftermath of last week's shootings in San Bernardino, allow me to share a little of what he said, as recorded in the book, What Good Is God? (To read my previously-posted comments about this book, click here.)

I would like to promise you a long life and a pain-free life, but I cannot do so. God has not made that a guarantee and not even Jesus was granted those favors. Rather, the Christian view of the world reduces to a simple formula. The world is good. The world is fallen. The world will be redeemed. Creation, Fall, Redemption - that's the Christian story in a nutshell.

You know that the world is good. Look around you at the glories of spring in the hills of Virginia. Look around you at the friends you love. Though still overwhelmed with sorrow just now, you will learn to laugh again, to play again, to hike up mountains and kayak down their streams, to love, to rear children. Yes, the world is good.

You know, too, that the world is fallen. Here at Virginia Tech in April of 2007 you know that as acutely as anyone on earth. The author and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel had a conversation with a renowned rabbi and asked him the question that had long been haunting him, "Rabbi, how can you believe in God after Auschwitz?" The rabbi stayed silent for a long moment then replied in a barely audible voice, "How can you not believe in God after Auschwitz?" The shootings here on campus, as well as the mega-evils like Auschwitz, show what humanity on its own can produce. "Apart from God, what was there in a world darkened by Auschwitz?" asks Wiesel.

The final chapter of the Christian story asks us to trust that the world will be redeemed. This is not the world God wants or is satisfied with. God has promised a time when evil will be defeated, when events like the shootings of Amish children at Nickel Mines and of students at Columbine and Virginia Tech will come to an abrupt and stunning end. More, God has promised that even the scars we accumulate on this fallen planet will be redeemed, as Jesus bodily demonstrated to Thomas.

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Truth is...God specializes at wringing every last drop of good out of even horrible situations. He took the worst thing mankind could ever have done...the killing of Jesus...and turned it into the best thing that ever happened to us...our salvation. We expectantly await what good Yahweh is going to bring out of the insanity of the San Bernardino shootings.

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