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
. 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:
. 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 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
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.