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Thursday, January 13, 2011

"Why Does this Happen?"

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[January 13, 2011]   --"But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."-Genesis 3: 4-5

I believe everyone has been shocked and appalled by the events in Arizona.  Once again a regrettable tragedy has unfolded before us, and once again we have been left to fumble about for answers, as one fumbles for a light switch in a dark room.  Everytime something like this happens, whether the disaster be of human or natural origins, we seek to understand its origins.  At the moment, we believe that if we can somehow get into the mind of Jared Loughner then it will all make sense.

"Oh," we might think, "he was schizophrenic, well, that explains it."  Or, "well, he was incited by political rhetoric, you know, unstable minds soak all that in too." 

But these are not explanations; far from it.  They are as hollow as the explanations we have tried to affix to the Haitian earthquake, hurricane Katrina, or the assasination of Martin Luther King.  We may have some glimpse of cause or motive, but, in the end, our attempts to justify human sufferings with some sort of rational cause always seem to fall short.  So why did this happen?  The same reason tragedy happens everyday, because we live in a fallen world.  That is the answer no one wants to really confront.  Why did Jared Loughner fire 31 shots into a crowd?  Because he is a deranged monster?  No, because he is as much a product of this world as a hurricane, an earthquake, or a racist.  Our world is fallen; separated from God and God's full designs and intentions.

In times such as these, when the truths of this world rise up and challenge us once more, it is incumbent upon us, as Christians, to look not toward the media for explanations, nor our culture for blame, but to look toward God in hope, that the only one who may change our world will do so. I cannot say why any particular bad thing happens. Why Jared Loughner?  Why Gabbie Giffords?  I don't know, but I do know that everytime our world manufactures tragedies large and small, it is a testimony to the separation we experience from God, and our need to turn our attention and efforts toward the work, love and grace of the God we know.  The best way to confront this tragedy is not to ask why, but instead to redouble our efforts; to live out our mission as the Body of Christ with renewed zeal.  The world is fallen, but the source of our hope is in the Triune God whom we worship, and in Him, we shall find all the answers we need.

Prayer: Holy God, I pray this day for those whose lives have been touched by tragedy.  I pray for those who have been harmed this week by violence and tragedy, and I pray for those who have perpetrated that violence; that you may be present in their lives as well.  Help me to do your work

[Phil Blackburn, First, Presbyterian Church]


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