where was God?

late last night a bus carrying vietnamese Christians from houston, en route to the Marian days festival in missouri, crashed in sherman, texas. so far fourteen people have died, many more seriously injured. our hearts break and go out to the families who have lost so much. looking at this from the outside, one would have to assume that if anyone would have God's protection against such a tragedy, it would be these people, on a religious pilgrimage. unfortunately it did not turn out that way. not even the most faithful of us can avoid random occurrences such as this.

the first thing many of us-- persons of faith and not-- will do upon hearing such terrible news is to ask "how could God allow such a thing to happen?" some may even conclude that this is further evidence that faith is a joke, and the Bible nothing more than a coffee table book of fairy tales. i can understand that. i myself have often questioned God when faced with grave injustices, whether personally or as a pastor. the languish of the human soul is natural and authentic. and God is certainly big enough to hear our outrage.

we can blame the bus company for its failures, we can question all sorts of things related to the accident. but none of that will replace the precious lives that were lost, and it will certainly offer no comfort to the grieving families. wrestling with human suffering is one thing that makes us human, and as i often say our faith never inoculates us from evil or suffering. God never promised a single person on that bus immunity from the stuff that haunts the rest of us. but God did promise to never leave nor forsake them. and just as the festival they planned to attend is a joyful event, so i know their joy now in the presence of God is infinitely more than we could ever imagine.

that may sound like a "pat" answer. this post may sound like a desperate pastor trying to defend God. neither is true. God does not cause tires to blow out any more than God causes storms to hit this part of the country or another, one person to drown while another survives, one plane to crash and another land safely. those ultimate questions are healthy and evidence of a growing faith-- faith without all the answers. sometimes all persons of faith can do in the face of catastrophic circumstance is to defiantly and confidently pray to a loving God whose heart is as shattered by the event as we are.


Amen and amen.
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