Thursday, September 01, 2005

Change of Subject: First Things First

I had intended to spend the next few days here discussing David's troubled relationship with his son Absalom. It's a fascinating and complex story -- and one that will have to wait for another time.

I've been thinking a lot about the devastation and chaos so many are experiencing now. I have personal friends who have lost everything they own in this storm. I heard an editorial on NPR yesterday that went something like this: "As the debate over Intelligent Design continues, Katrina makes me think, If there is a Designer he's got a lot to answer for." And then I received the following email this morning from a good friend:

Hey John -- I'd like to hear more of your thoughts about God's sovereignty.... I'm struggling to understand how to keep the world functioning if God is completely in control but chooses not to exercise that control in all situation. It seems incongruent to say that God is gracious and then observe all the devastation in Louisiana and Mississippi. It seems incongruent to say that God is our Protector, when I got a phone call yesterday that an acquaintance from our early married years was struck and killed by a train yesteerday, leaving a wife and 14, 12, and 10 year old daughters.

Why does it seem so strange to me that someone in either of these situations could have the response of Job, "Though He slay me, yet will I praise Him"? Is it strange because I value this life too much? Is it strange because it seems weird to love and surrender your life to Someone who could take that love and give you something like death in response?

In all my growing up years and in all my adult years, no one has offered a real discussion about what the Bible says about all this, and I don't know where to look for answers. Based on how I was raised, the answer to the dilemma is to just swallow down what I don't know and accept it (some questions just don't have answers in this life); not accepting this truism about God's character could create a fissure in my faith that might result in me having major doubts, and doubts lead to falling away, and that's really, really bad.

You opened Pandora's Box with your blog a few weeks ago, friend, and I could use some help in trying to put knowledge to my belief. God is good, all the time; all the time, God is good. I believe that, but it's very challenging to know why in the face of these situations. Call it blind faith or emotional belief-ism, but I want to have some rationale for the truth that seems untrue right now.

Okay, where do we start?