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Second Guessing God

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Second Guessing God - January 11, 2006

I'll never forget the headlines in our local paper after the initial days of Hurricane Katrina last August. The headlines point up the danger of getting your theology from headlines.

The first one quoted a New Orleans's resident on August 29th who proclaimed thankfully, "God's got our back." He was referring, of course, to the fact that initial reports of the damage to New Orleans appeared to be much better than feared, that the worst gales from the windy party of Hurricane Katrina had been downgraded and that everyone thought the Big Easy was going to be okay.

The next day the levy broke.

I wanted to write the headline that day to say, "God's still got your back." Even when the levy breaks, God is there, helping you hang on, even in a situation that quickly spiraled out of control of the authorities.

I'll also never forget one time when I was sitting in the modest new home of an elderly couple in West Virginia. I was with a group from our church after the Flood of '85 doing disaster relief there. The men in the group had put finishing touches on the front porch, and the women had scraped stickers off the brand new windows and washed them. The couple was as pleased as new graduates with the new little home.

Their daughter (if memory serves me) came over, drank some coffee, and noted, "We lost our home too and we didn't get any of this." She explained that immediately after the flood, victims had been offered a new mobile home or a specified amount of money as part of the government's response to the disaster. Those who signed on early got the cash or a mobile home; those who weren't as quick to respond were able to benefit from another group that came and offered wood frame homes to those who had not yet been helped. "We acted too soon," is what I remember this daughter saying.

I was a little stunned at the jealousy evident even towards her own parents, but yet it was completely understandable. Whenever disasters happen, people are always going to second guess the decision makers, the red tape holders, and even themselves and their own decisions and responses. Jealousy, bad feelings, accusations, ineptness, and unfairness are all part of the ugly ugly aftermath of disaster.

We even second guess God. To even say, "God protected them," implies that the next day in New Orleans, God didn't protect them. When terrible accidents and hurricanes happen, when illness or plague strike, when the tree falls wrong while you're cutting wood and your brother just happens to be in the way, I think it is more appropriate to say, "Nature happens, but God is with us through whatever happens."

People have wondered about that and questioned God ever since the time of the classical sufferer, Job. God quiets the second guessing of Job and his three friends in the Bible with: "Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you; and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand" (Job 38:2-4).

There is another scripture that can be a great comfort as we face the beginning of a New Year. A great prayer in Ephesians 3 goes, "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us... " To me, this says that someday we will see the whole big picture. We ask for protection from a storm. The storm takes some, misses others. Where is the justice in that?

There is no justice, just a God who loves us all, who walks with us through the bad times that occur because of nature or laws of physics or illness. God knows the bigger picture and how things will change along the way. God is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine. That's a promise I can take with me into the New Year.

Submitted by Melodie Davis
 
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There is no justice, just a God who loves us all, who walks with us through the bad times that occur because of nature or laws of physics or illness.
I'm not really sure it's appropriate to discuss these devotionals here or if I should have taken it elsewhere on the forums for discussion. Please accept my apology if I have erred.

I just felt compelled to comment on the above quoted section of this devotional. I agree with the overall message this author shares, but I disagree with her on this specific point. I base my disagreement on the Word.

Firstly, there IS justice. God is a just God as we read throughout the Bible. For example, Deut. 32:4 He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He.

How these tragedies, the loss of life, the utter destruction is justified is beyond my/our comprehension, but our understanding isn't a requirement. My signature, and one of my favorite verses, says: For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9.

Secondly, God is the Creator of everything! He gave man free will, but no where in the Bible does it say he also gave "mother nature" free will. He created and commands the winds and rain. Why is it difficult to believe that a just God could send a hurricane or cause a drought or earthquake? Is it because He's so wonderfully merciful? Can He not be merciful AND just?!? Oh but He is.

It is not for us to understand. It is for us to accept His wisdom and keep the faith throughout. Read the verse (Job 38:2-4) quoted by the author again. Read Job's story. You'll find an assurance of God's wisdom over ours.

The point, I believe, is to be ready before God's perfect reasoning endangers your accustomed way of living and/or you and your loved ones lives. Be ready to have your faith tested at any time, in any manner imagineable. WHEN you are put to the test, when you must endure God's authority and power via natural disasters, illness and/or other examples of "bad times", I pray you'll remember the message offered by the author of this devotional: God's still got your back - He will see you through.
 
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