I wrote about floods in southern Queensland, no idea that it would just be one among many shattered places. Tonight I read of earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan, Christchurch is still shocked, last month far north Queensland was blown away by a cyclone. Bushfires, crops destroyed, homes flattened or burnt.
Cancer smothers people, marriages disintegrate, addictions rob friends of their dignity.
I notice two responses.
Some know a God who accompanies them in these desperate times. He comforts, strengthens and consoles. His presence salves wounds.
Some question the presence, the wisdom and the interest of a creator. 'How can there be a loving God if this cruelness is possible?' This shattering of life is proof of a dearth of purpose. Or we have been carelessly dropped into a grim, sarcastic, vengeful universe.
How can the God-followers, the comforted ones, reach into this deep, yawning-gulf question? These two persectives live such a long way apart. Are we even speaking the same dialect? Sometimes I wonder.
I know my words are paltry and half-hearted. Poorly thought out, surprised by the questions. Much of the contents of my heart and my mind never gets formed into syllables. Because I stumble and mumble to get it out. I need to think more about the questions we get asked. How can God transform this world-lostness, by his presence?
I would love to be like Peter. Impetuously outspoken. Faithfully fervent.
To those wondering how we can find comfort in God, I would answer. Boldly.
"Where else have I to go? His words are those of eternal life. Where else can I find the comfort, the challenge, the merciful forgiveness? Where else can I find freedom from this earth's tyranny and ruthless destruction? This world, these people, brings wounds, God alone is the salve."
And yet would they listen? I confess I long to do the spirit's work and touch ears to really hear. Shake someone so that they no longer ignore what is before them. Why can't I choose and they respond?
It takes faith to leave it to God, because my pride pictures me doing such a fine job of discerning and enabling. How deluded I am. I mess up simple answers to honest questions. Imagine the mess I would make of divine tasks.