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.