There is one thing about God that all of us need to realize: He doesn’t sit on a throne in heaven eating popcorn while watching what’s going on down here on earth on the large TV in His room. God doesn’t have His holy computer opened up to His huge contact list where every now and then He comes across a name and hits a “PAIN” button so that person could be hurt or sick or have some evil come into their lives.
If this was the God I prayed to, then I wouldn’t want to pray or believe in Him.
The horrific events that have hit our nation in the past week – the terrorist attack last Tuesday in New York City that took the life of one our neighbors here in New Milford or the crazed gunman who hated his former mother-in-law and went in and shot up her church – have brought out the worst in us. From the left, we have attacks calling for the end of gun rights in America and anyone who disagrees with this idea hates little kids because children were slaughtered in that church in Texas. From the right, calls for greater control over immigration and anyone who disagrees with the motivation of curtailing immigration clearly supports letting terrorists into America. On Twitter, hate filled tweets assail anyone who disagrees with a tweeter’s opinion.
America is angry.
It has been for a long time.
The debate over how and why hatred and anger is what now fuels our debate is something that our nation will have to tackle.
An LCMS pastor is under fire for an article he wrote for The Federalist website where he wrote that the congregants who lost their lives in the Sutherland, Texas church had their prayers answered by God. The atheist left on Twitter went apoplectic and some websites have assailed him for being out of touch, and that is being kind.
Our words sometimes get us in trouble.
It is not that the pastor, a gentleman I went to seminary with, was incorrect in his understanding of God and Holy Scripture. But sometimes we say things that may make sense in our minds, but in reality they come across as cold. Pastor Fiene’s words, while theologically on par with our faith, they came across as cold and unfeeling. When people are mourning and are planning to bury their loved ones hear that God answered their dead relative’s prayers, one can’t but see those words as lacking heart.
That was not Pastor Fiene’s intention.
My words have gotten me in trouble in the past, especially when I either said or wrote something I thought was a clear as the summertime sky, but others read it differently.
The only thing us pastors can do is work harder to make our ideas clearer in our spoken and written word. Our confession of Jesus Christ must remain bold, but understandable to people.
The God I believe in and trust in and have hope in tells me that while I live in this fallen world, He’s still near. My faith keeps me on the path of loving those around me and keeping Him at the center of my life. I’m not perfect; I sin more that I like. But God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ is mine.
All around us we see the heartache of our fallen world. The pain and suffering caused by diseases and the actions of people drive us to question whether there is a God. We want a God who stops evil and curtails sin in real time. But that is not realistic.
The seeds of evil and sin are planted all around us, even in each of us. We fail ourselves and others all the time. The crazed man in Texas should have never been able to purchase the guns He used in his attack. Apparently, the Air Force never forwarded to the FBI this man’s record of assault against his wife. If they did, then he would have never been able to buy the guns because he would have failed a background check.
We don’t live a perfect world.
In a perfect world, bad things wouldn’t happen. Evil wouldn’t exist.
But it does.
It is how we respond to sin and evil that shows Christ living in us. And yes, we pray “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” May the will of God for those who are mourning be for comfort in this dark time. May His will be for His people to be a strong arm for those whose lives are shattered. And may His will be for us that we be better people.