I’m writing this on 9/11, the anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attack on the U.S., killing nearly 3000 people. Two days ago an earthquake hit Morrocco; almost 3000 people have died, and the count continues.
The Big Question that often arises is: Why?—as in, why is there suffering? Why does evil exist? Why would a good God allow these things to happen? Years ago I posted a question on the interwebs: “If Jesus sat across the table from you, what would you ask Him?” Within minutes there were over 150 comments…some funny ones, of course, but many were heartbreaking, as in “Why did my baby…” or “Why did my marriage…” or “How come cancer took my…”—issues of loss and pain and brokenness. Another time I asked: “Total honesty: what barrier keeps you from deeply experiencing God?”—and again, very vulnerable comments were posted exposing a longing to know why God did or didn’t do certain things. And beneath all those comments was an undercurrent of fairness or justice. Something is simply not fair. “That’s not right.” “That’s not just.” The unfairness of life and circumstances was a common theme. That issue was a large part of former atheist C.S. Lewis’ whole problem with God in his classic little book, Mere Christianity. He writes: “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I gotten this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? “…In the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist — in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless — I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality — namely my idea of justice — was full of sense. Consequently, atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.” That was helpful to me when I was young and searching for God. In the end, though, reason could lead me to the doorway of God, but it wouldn’t take me on in. Reason will take you all the way to the door, but it won’t turn the doorknob. That’s where the actions of grace and faith must kick in. To experience God, we have to enter through a very small and narrow door that we can only fit through humbly on our knees. The only way in is via humility…with just enough self-awareness to say, “Maybe I’m not as smart as I thought I was. Maybe I’m not as clever as I think. Maybe I don’t have all the answers. Maybe I’m more broken than I realize. Maybe there is something more to life than this life.” Repentance simply means to change your mind. Perhaps that’s why the psalmist writes that only a “fool says there is no God”—because only a fool believes he already knows everything, and who has such little self-awareness that he can’t see any need. And maybe only a fool would accept the senselessness of the universe as a way to exist. The Hebrew prophet Isaiah once had a word from God for his people, his tribe. Israel had become so defined by her rebellion against God in the worst religious ways, that God had some gut-wrenching things to say: “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. ISAIAH 1:18 Once that condition is taken care of, then they could know God deeply. Or as Jesus put it, “You shall know the truth…and it will set you free.” As a leader, how are you responding to the deepest questions…the ones that your people may be afraid to ask? Dave Workman | The Elemental Group
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