I just finished reading the memoirs of a current TV personality, Craig Ferguson. If you don’t know who he is, he is the host of one of the late-night shows. He follows David Letterman on CBS. And he is one of the funniest people on TV.
In his book, he tells the story of his 15+ year battle with alcoholism. He’s been sober now for about 18 years. At one point, Craig refers to God as someone he still doesn’t really understand. I bring the alcoholism thing up because the AA tradition refers to “God as we understand Him”. So Craig, having been through AA and sober for 18 years, still doesn’t think he understands God much.
And my first reaction was, “oh, that’s too bad”.
A lot of people who, like me, have decades of Christian religion under their belt, express similar sentiments when we encounter people who just don’t seem to “get it”. They can’t quite figure out God. We shake our heads.
But then this got me thinking. How many people can honestly say that they understand God? That they’ve got Him figured out? That they know what He’s up to in light of things that happen?
Let’s be honest.
Two violent events occurred two weeks ago, one global, one local. First, there was the devastating earthquake in Haiti, resulting in 150,000 deaths, many more injured, countless more homeless, flattening the city of Port-au-Prince. And on the local front we have a young man whose parents go to our church, who was senselessly murdered in his apartment.
So, to be totally honest, I have to ask God, “why?” Is that okay? Is it okay to ask God, “What are you up to?” Is it okay to have doubts? Violent, life-interrupting events like these open up the age-old question about why God allows such devastating things to happen.
Yes, there are those out there who like to pretend they know what God is up to. Pat Robertson recently stated that the Haiti disaster was the result of a curse on a nation that has “made a pact with the Devil”. Similar proclamations were made by John Hagee after Hurricane Katrina–that New Orleans “had a level of sin that was offensive to God and they were recipients of the judgment of God for that”.
Is God really like that? Powerless on the one hand and condemning on the other?
I personally don’t believe so. Here are two things I believe with every fiber of my being: I believe that God is love and I believe God is in control. How such beliefs can be reconciled with events like these are beyond anyone’s ability. I am not going to pretend to have the answers and I don’t think anyone else should pretend to either.
Setting these questions aside, (what else can we do?), I am deeply touched by the love, support, and care that people have poured out to those in such dire need. When awful things happen, do we philosophise, do we pontificate, or do we respond with love? I never cease to be amazed at the power of love through action.
To quote Lenny Kravitz, “Let love rule.” I just looked up the lyrics to that song on a website called “answers.com”. Isn’t that ironic?