As California burns, pundits and religious leaders are weighing in on the question of : Where is GOD in the midst of this?
The blog www.rapturealert.blogspot.com is suggesting that the fires are God's judgement: "There is biblical precedent for us to at least suspect that Governor Schwarzenegger's recent forwarding of the homosexual agenda in California has brought God's judgment upon its lands. Without a doubt...Could it be that what we are presently seeing on the national news is California spewing out many of its inhabitants as a result of same? Quite possibly but only God knows for sure if that's the case."
On his radio show, Glenn Beck said: "I think there is a handful of people who hate America. Unfortunately for them, a lot of them are losing their homes in a forest fire today." What does Beck Glenn mean by that statement? Is God punishing those who "hate America?"
It is always discouraging to me when people use human suffering and tragedy to make moral or political points and put the blame not only on those suffering, but on God. This is an imperfect creation. God seems to have made it that way. And we are not protected from all harm in our lives. Stuff happens, and we don't always understand why. What we are assured of is that God is with us in the "stuff." That may be scant consolation when we're in the midst of it, but I'm afraid it's all that we get. Job learned that a long time ago. When Job questions God about his innocent suffering, God's response from the whirlwind is basically, "I'm God and you're not. And you will never understand my ways nor the ways of the created order totally." In a showy explanation God questions Job to make him see his relative insignificance in the greater schema of things: "Were you around when I created the world? Can you move the sun and the stars? Well, then, close your mouth." And that's what Job eventually does: puts his hand over his mouth. Whether our hands are over our mouths in horror or humility, sometimes no words are best, for none suffice. Yet, we are left with important questions to ponder:
1) If God is all powerful and controls nature, then why doesn't he stop the winds and cool the temperatures, thus ending the fires and the tragic loss of life and property?
2) Can tragedy, such as the fires, ever be seen as God's judgement?
3) How are we to understand innocent human suffering?
4)Does prayer help at a time like this? Does prayer change "God's mind?" Can prayer stop the destruction?
5) Do all of the religious traditions belief the same thing about God's activity or lack thereof in the world?
I'm not going to answer these questions, but I'll be thinking about them along with you. And our prayers continue for all those caught in the devastation of the fires in California. The promise of better weather with lesser winds gives hope. Is that an answer to prayer...or just nature taking its course? You decide.