Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
1Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
5-29-11

5-29-11

Ratings: (0)|Views: 4|Likes:
Published by Paul Sandberg

More info:

Published by: Paul Sandberg on Jun 07, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as DOC, PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

07/17/2014

pdf

text

original

 
 1
May 29, 2011
1 Peter 3:13-22 Luke 13:1-5 ³What About Suffering?´Dr. Ted H. SandbergWhile surfing through various channels last night, looking for something rather mindless to watch inorder to relax before going to bed, I came across a special on CNN on the tornadoes that have hit theMidwest and South this May. Amazingly, they had film footage of some of the tornadoes as theymoved across the countryside ± though from my perspective, fortunately they didn¶t show much of thedestruction actually taking place.After the videos of the tornadoes themselves, they naturally showed the destruction on the ground ± the missing neighborhoods where nothing is left but rubble and foundation pads of peoples¶ homes.They focused on Joplin, Missouri and the destruction that took place there. CNN also intervieweddoctors who worked at the hospital in Joplin that was destroyed, and various other members of thecommunity. I¶m sure you¶ve seen the pictures and heard similar interviews. It¶s heart breaking to seethe destruction and know what that means to the people who lived and worked in what used to be. It¶sheart wrenching to hear the survivors talk about the ones they¶ve lost, the ones who covered them withtheir bodies, the ones who were killed only hours after high school graduation. It¶s also heartwarming, to hear the people talk about rebuilding and moving forward with their lives, even as theysort through the rubble that was once their home.As I watched the CNN Special Report, I heard many of the survivors thank God for having saved themfrom tornadoes¶ destructive power. I understand that many of those who survived are very faithful people. Their faith in God is deep, and strong, and I myself and glad of that. I certainly believe thatthey¶ll need a strong faith to carry on their lives following the devastation to Joplin. Last I heard, 142 people were killed and there are still nearly a hundred unaccounted for. Most in Joplin will have lostfamily members, or friends, or co-workers, or those with whom they did business. Even those whowere away from the physical destruction of the tornado will suffer from the emotional devastation thetornado caused. So I¶m glad that so many have such strong faith in God.Let me also say that what I¶ll preach to you here this morning is not what I¶d preach if I was in Joplin.If I was in Joplin I¶d preach God¶s comfort, God¶s presence in the midst of the darkest night. I¶d preach about anger and fear and sharing one¶s pain with friends and clergy. That¶s what I¶d preach if Iwas in Joplin.But since I¶m here in Chico, I¶ll preach something different. As I watched the interviews on the CNNSpecial last night, 2 thoughts came to me. First, while I affirm the faith of those who suffered massiveloss, and the faith of those who seemingly miraculously survived the tornado, I¶m not sure that Godspecifically saved those who survived. Let me also say that I¶m not sure God didn¶t miraculously savethem either. One elderly man said that he was sucked through a wall of his house, and it was only because of God that he survived. And he may be right. But as I heard his story, I thought of theyoung man who¶d just graduated from high school who was sucked out of his car and ended up deadin a pond. Why would God save the elderly man and allow the high school graduate to die?And then I pushed the question a bit. Why was Joplin hit by such a destructive tornado and not theopen countryside where there would be much less destruction, much less loss of life? Why did Godsave an elderly man, but let the tornado destroy have of Joplin, and let the tsunami hit Japan, andhurricanes do their damage, killing many and spare even more. Looking at the destruction in Joplin,
 
 2
I¶m surprised any survived the tornado. In many ways, I¶m thankful all the residents were killed after seeing what happened.Which brings us to the whole question of suffering, doesn¶t it? Many answers have been given to thequestion of suffering, but few have been totally comforting. The classic story of a good man sufferingis the story of Job in the OT. More attempts have been made to understand and interpret Job than perhaps any other book in the Bible. Many biblical scholars believe that the book wrestles with the problem of evil and suffering but offers no explanation that¶s satisfactory. Rabbi Kushner in his book,When Bad Things Happen to Good People, feels that the author of the Book of Job is forced to choose between a powerful God who isn¶t totally good, or good God who isn¶t totally powerful
1
. He selectsthe latter, choosing to believe in God¶s goodness. God doesn¶t will tragedies and sufferings to his people. Misfortunes don¶t come as punishment from God. God is a God of justice, but not a God of total power, or at least not a God who chooses to use total power. God is a God of love and not a Godof vengeance.From this perspective, we can gain some relief in realizing that God isn¶t testing us when we suffer.After all, why should God need to test us when God already knows everything? We can also takecomfort in the fact that we can therefore turn to God, knowing we¶re accepted and that God isn¶t angrywith us. Further, we can begin to find some justification for our anger at the unfairness of life,knowing that we¶re sharing God¶s anger at injustice and God¶s indignation at it¶s unfairness.While there are some things we can¶t yet know when it comes to understanding the meaning and purpose of trouble and suffering, there are other things we can know, and need to know. I¶ve alreadymentioned the first:
We
don¶t hav
e
to blam
e
God
. God is love and God cares about us. Jesus saidthat God knows when even a sparrow falls. If God cares for the birds and the flowers, how muchmore does God care for us. If we can get ourselves straightened out about who God is and what Godwants of us, we¶ll quickly learn to stop blaming God when things go wrong.Second. While God can do many things,
God do
es
n¶t do
e
v
er
ything
. God doesn¶t break the laws of nature that God has established. God doesn¶t over-rule human freedom and over-ride human will.God doesn¶t always make our sicknesses go away, no matter how sincerely we pray and ask God to doso. Miracles do occur, and people do survive tornadoes. But many, many more don¶t, even with themost effective prayers on their side. Here we¶re face to face with a mystery, and the best we can do is bow our heads in thanks when we experience a miracle of any kind, and never, never begin to think that
ou
r
prayers,
ou
r
contributions, or 
ou
r
change of heart are what made God perform the miracle.We don¶t know why some people died in the tornado in Joplin, while others walked away with a fewcuts and bruises. Does God hear the prayers of some and not of others? I can¶t believe that. All wecan do, when we¶re miraculously spared from some catastrophe, is to offer God our bewilderedgratitude. In fact, God may not have very much to do with automobile accidents or plane crashes or tornadoes, any more than God has to do with people getting cancer or multiple sclerosis. As much aswe¶d like to believe that we¶re in control, that if we¶re good nothing bad will happen to us, that¶s notthe case. Random acts of violence are a part of nature. There¶s a risk of being in a tornado, if you live
1. Kushner, Harold s., When Bad Things Happen to Good People, Anchor Books, A Division of RandomHouse, Inc., New York, 1981.
 
 3
where tornadoes occur. If you live in the Mississippi River flood plane, your home may be flooded. If you live in an earthquake zone in here in California, there may be an earthquake. But we may be in acar accident on the way home as well. Random acts of violence are a part of life. These acts are notcaused by God.This takes us to a third truth about suffering and tragedy, and that is that
s
om
e
tim
es
w
e
re
call
e
d to
s
ha
re
in th
e
 
re
d
e
mptiv
e
wo
rk 
of God by volunta
r
ily a
ss
uming a m
e
a
s
u
re
of th
e
wo
r
ld¶
s
 
s
uff 
er
ing
. Just because we don¶t know the meaning behind suffering doesn¶t mean that suffering iswithout meaning. Occasionally, occasionally, that meaning is for more than just ourselves. It¶s for theworld.The highest example of redemptive suffering is in Jesus¶ voluntary suffering on the cross which became the instrument of the world¶s redemption. This supreme act of sacrificial love is the greatestthe world has ever known because it was done for the world and offered as a means by which theworld could be saved.Standing up for truth, speaking out for justice, defending the poor ± these can all lead to suffering onour part as the world turns against us.A very minor example of this is the reaction of a few to the ³We love our Muslim Neighbors´ messagethat we/I posted on our signboard. I¶m still getting e-mails from a lady who thinks Muslims are Satanincarnate. And there have been those who¶ve left this congregation because we seek to love andsupport all people, not just some people. Those examples don¶t really count as suffering, because firstof all, they¶re minor, and second of all, the overwhelming majority who¶ve contacted me have beenvery positive. But they do suggest that speaking out for justice can bring us suffering. Think of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the other ministers who spoke out for the rights of African-Americansduring the Civil Rights movement. To speak God¶s truth can bring about undeserved suffering.Finally, let me suggest that with all this,
w
e
 
s
p
e
nd a
s
littl
e
tim
e
a
s
po
ss
ibl
e
on th
e
why of 
s
uff 
er
ingand a
s
much tim
e
a
s
po
ss
ibl
e
l
e
tting that
s
uff 
er
ing l
e
ad u
s
to th
e
light of J
es
u
s
Ch
r
i
s
t
. Thequestion isn¶t ³where did this tragedy come from?´ but rather ³Where will it lead?´ How can I usethis time of darkness for good, rather than letting it use me for destruction? We turn to God in theknowledge that God will be with us and help us to experience the presence of the Holy Spirit, even inthe midst of the darkest hour.Says Kushner: ³We do not love God because God is perfect. We do not love God because God protects us from all harm and keeps evil things from happening to us. We do not love God becausewe¶re afraid of God, or because God will hurt us if we turn our backs on God. We love God becauseGod is God, because God is the author of all the beauty and the order around us, the source of our strength and the hope and courage with us, and of other people¶s strength and hope and courage withwhich we are helped in our time of need. We love God because God is the best part of ourselves andof our world. That is what it means to love. Love is not the admiration of perfection, but theacceptance of an imperfect person with all their imperfections, because loving and accepting that person makes us better and stronger.´
2
 
2. Kushner, p. 160.

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->