Cheyenne, WY. 3/20/16 – Time to admit the obvious. There is much tragedy in this world of ours. Every day brings more of it. Of course, God does not cause it. Why does He allow it? A mystery.
The believers, formed by the Bible, also experience – and own – the awful numbness and pain of this mystery; no matter how much they deny it; no matter how much they wish it were not so; and no matter how much the atheist and the agnostic use the mystery to ridicule the very idea of a caring God. To pretend otherwise, to deny it, as some misguided Christians do, is sad folly. Such repression can and often does lead to serious emotional problems; another tragedy.
But the believer, after acknowledging and naming this mystery, is lovingly and patiently called back to trusting that this mystery called life – with all its emotional blind alleys and spiritual dead ends – is, finally, a gift. And that gift is good.
The Christian who has read and understood the Book of Job, the Christian who has read the Passion narratives of Jesus and has understood them, knows that the faithful ones are no strangers to mystery, and specifically to the mystery of tragedy. Tragedy is, in fact, a true mystery only for those who have a belief that tragedy does make sense, those who have a faith in a higher being, those who believe in God.
If you start from the premise that we are all simply random atoms colliding with each other, then why should anything make sense? Why should planes not crash? Why should families not be torn apart? Why should children not die of cancer? If that were so, then why should individual lives not be anything but mindless self-centeredness and self-absorbed pleasure-seeking, where the stomach and the groin are the true masters?
Unfortunately, as we can see in our culture, in our society, many who live in today’s world have opted for this view.
But, Jesus, on the other hand, stood in the midst of the mystery of human life and death and neither repressed this mystery nor pretended to answer it. We have seen in the Gospel of Luke, Chap. 13, where Jesus is asked to explain a tragedy. He responds by asking, “Were those who had the temple of Siloam fall on them any worse than anyone else?” He dismisses such hatefull speculation about the victims of tragedies by simply saying, “No.” And then he goes on to call for repentence among all those who hear him. Jesus acknowledges the reality of tragedy and goes on with life. Tragedy neither drove him to despair nor did it elicit a long “explanation” from Him.
Jesus simply lived the mystery of a grace-filled loving life in the midst of tragedy. He called his followers to do the same.
NOTE: This piece is somewhat plagierized. Yes. it’s my adaptation of an entry in Gregory S. Clapper’s brilliant little book, “When the World Breaks Your Heart.”