Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Questions without Answers (at least for now)

“Why does God do stuff like that?”

Except “stuff” wasn’t the s-word he used when he asked me that question last night about the tornado that tore through Oklahoma this week.

There wasn’t much time for a treatise on the sovereignty of God in a broken world, and he wasn’t looking for information. He, like many, was looking to vent. And so the conversation moved quickly on.

Perhaps you are asking the same question.

The truth is there is no easy answer. There is nothing that will make sense to us. It would be somewhat easier to stomach if a tornado had ripped through a maximum security prison where people are doing hard time for their crimes.

But when it’s a school, a neighborhood of families, churches, schools and the like—people just doing what they did the day before, last week, and last year—then there’s nothing that will really make sense.

We can talk about God’s sovereignty and justice. We can talk about the whole creation groaning together under the weight of the curse. We can talk about the gospel and how eternity is brighter and better, and how brokenness like this makes our hearts yearn for a new creation.

But all that talk will mean little to those who will bury their loved ones this week.

For now, we weep with those who weep. We resist the urge to give answers. Tears speak so much louder and more tenderly.

Where possible, we look for opportunities to serve and love.

We remember that it is God’s mercy that we are not consumed (Luke 13:1-9).

And with poet and hymn writer William Cowper, we rest (however fitfully) in the mystery of God’s sometimes frowning providence.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

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