Friday, January 15, 2010

When Bad Things Happen

Pat Robertson is in the news again. He usually is at the start of a new year for his ridiculous yearly prognostications. This week it's because of his statement about God's judgment being reflected in the events in Haiti. He said similar things about New Orleans when Katrina struck. Is he right or wrong?

I will not jump on the bandwagon led by the spokesman for our guru-in-chief in the White House. At this point, I'm not sure the big cheese knows anything about anything, but I'm downright certain he knows nothing of the Bible or the intricacies of how God governs the world. The White House is not alone in this; however, more than a few Christian clergy are singing the same song. Is it in tune, biblically, or just expedient for fundraising and image?

There are many biblical precedents of God bringing judgment in response to sin to individuals and peoples. Since God is immutable, what he's done before in time, I could seeing him doing again. Therefore, this is not just an OT paradigm--God is the same yesterday, today, and forever! Is this not what so much of the Apocalypse is about? Perhaps Herod, the worm-fed, might have something to say on the subject.

There are also biblical precedents for tragic events occuring having nothing directly to do with judgment for sin. Towers fell, children died untimely deaths, folk lost everything, capriciously it seems. Such things occur because of sin and the judgment upon it in a general sense, but hardly ever as the specific retribution for a specific sin. In eternity none of that will be the case, but in the now, we are broken vessels living in a broken world. Walking amidst the chards, someone's bound to get cut.

Even though it's cliched, we need to see that we're all in the same boat. Everyone dies, even the best among us; everyone sees pain and heartache, it's the human condition. Our response to the beaten and bloodied should not be speculation about the motives of God in bringing them to that condition, that's not something God has given us eyes to see. Our reaction should be binding the wounds we can bind, that our God-given eyes can see just fine.

Though God's grace meets us in this broken world, it doesn't change the nature of it. There is a day appointed when God will intervene, do away with all that's rotten, and start again without it. Until then, we must live with the perplexity, the seeming capriciousness, of tragedy in mutual pity and compassion. Now's not the time for ex post facto jeremiads, but for giving a hand to a injured shipmate. When bad things happen, good neighbors are needed.


  1. SLW,

    Well said, One of the best books I read related to this subject, wasn't by a believer, but by a Jewish Rabbi, "When Bad things happen to Good people" Kushner was the author. Did you ever read it?

  2. Familiar with it, but never read it. Never could get past the Jewish rabbi tag, I suppose. What did you take away as the most salient point of the work?

  3. That's a great little explanation (and refutation of stupid things people say during these times). I would not consider myself an arminian or a calvinist though at one time or another I was a dogmatic adherent to both, not at the same time hehe. The arminians have a much better take on 'when bad things happen' and I take great comfort in knowing that God does not sovereignly ordain tragedy in order to discipline us or teach us something. Thank God he's not an abusive father! What he does do is take what the enemy intends for evil and turns it to our good.

  4. Jul,
    There are not a few who believe that the bad things that happen here on earth are the Devil's doing. I'm not sure I can buy into that explanation (that's not to say the Devil isn't about making misery). It seems sufficient to me to know that God pulled the plug on this world back at the time mankind was kicked out of the Garden, and everything has been winding down to death ever since.

  5. I think some of it is the devil's doing, some of it just a result of living in a broken world. Either way, the devil does tend to try to take advantage of bad things happening. The cross is the perfect example of God taking what looks to be utterly evil and horrible (the death of Jesus) and turning it to glorious and wonderful good!

  6. Jul,
    I agree with you.

    The Devil tries to take advantage of everything, good and bad!


Any comment in ill taste or not germane to the post may be deleted without warning. I am under no obligation to give anyone an opportunity to call me names or impugn my motives or integrity. If you can't play nice, go somewhere else and play.