“For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” – Zephaniah 3:17
Bad news dominates the news. Every day we read or hear about some tragedy, perhaps afflicting hundreds or thousands of people, perhaps touching just one child, one family, one circle of loved ones. Each of these tragedies ripples unseen through people’s lives, and all are forever changed. If you are directly impacted, the questions are immediate and insistent: Why me? Why us? Why, God? Even if you are not personally impacted by a tragedy, you cannot help but wonder: Why would a loving, all powerful God allow such things to happen? Is God heartless?
After all, how could the mass destruction of a tsunami be good? How could the brutal murders of innocent school children be good? Of course they were not good. They were devastating and heart-breaking. As a pastor, I am expected to have answers to these hard questions. Let me say the upfront: I don’t have answers. I have the same questions you have. I wonder and my heart breaks too. I don’t understand God or the world any more than anybody else. “For who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice?” (Romans 11:34) But I do know some things.
I know we can’t look at life through rose-colored glasses. The world can be a tough place. It was in Biblical times. It is today. But I also know that in the midst of all the darkness of this world there is light. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” (John 1:5)
I know that God is glorious, majestic and perfect. He is infinite, without beginning or end or any limitation at all. I know God is consistent and unchanging, and always remains dependably the same. I know God is utterly pure and perfect and therefore utterly against evil, deceit, injustice and wrong doing. And I know God is loving, merciful and compassionate. I know God mingled His tears with ours and with those who have lost so much and suffered such great pain. In other words, God didn’t remain in heaven unmoved by the tragedy and pain of the world. He came and suffered as we must suffer. He wept at open graves as we weep at open graves. He was lonely and afraid as we are lonely and afraid, and He died as we must die. God didn’t give us words or philosophies for our questions. He did a whole lot better than that. He came and gave Himself. He died on the cross for our sins. That doesn’t sound heartless, does it?
Tuesday: For All Intents and Purposes
- In a sentence, how would you describe God? Did you use words such as heartless, uncaring, indifferent, etc.?
- Is salvation a cold, heartless transaction?
- What was your takeaway from the sermon this week?