It’s All God’s Fault!

Warning: Seriously long musing on the question,
Is God really the cruel, heartless being Christians sometimes unwittingly describe?

Job’s Comforters

Imagine: A psychotic teen filled with anger, bent on revenge, waiting outside a small school. He’s carrying an AK-47; when the children pour out of the school at noon, he opens fire.

That evening two dozen sets of parents are overwhelmed with grief. John and Jane have lost two children in this tragedy, so acquaintances come to sit and grieve with them. Some offer what they hope are comforting words:

“It must have been their time to go,” said one.
“No it wasn’t,” John protested. “They were murdered!”
But it’s all according to God’s will,” said another. “The Bible says ‘All things work together for good,’ so He must have some plan for making this good.”
“This loss will haunt our family all our lives,” Jane whispered.
“God could have prevented this tragedy, but He allowed it to happen and His ways are always perfect.”
“What’s perfect about MURDER” John retorted.
Jane was thankful when their wanna-be encouragers left. She sighed and told John, “At least they weren’t quite like Job’s comforters. They didn’t tell us it was because of some sin in our life.”

Imagine: Some drunk gets into his car, thinking he’s okay to drive home. On the way he veers into the other lane and smashes into an oncoming car. Pearl’s son, daughter-in-law, and two of their children are killed instantly.”
Later a friend offered the much-repeated words of comfort: “They say God never gives us more than we can handle.”
“Then they lie,” Pearl sobbed, “because this is a lot more than I can handle!”

Beware Quick Pat Answers

In his devotional booklet, Every Day With Jesus, Mar/April 2018, Pastor Selwyn Hughes writes: “Time and again I have sat before a weeping man or woman in whose life something tragic has happened and heard them say, “If God loves me, why did He let this happen?”

He goes on to say how Christian often struggle with the fact that God allows bad things to happen to good people, and they prefer to rationalize the issue rather than face it.
“I must have done something wrong and God is punishing me.” Or like Job’s comforters, “You must have done something wrong and God is punishing you.”
And if nothing else makes sense, then, “It was their time to go,” Or “It’s all in God’s will.”

The above examples of comfort offered to the grieving demonstrate ways we tend to rationalize the inexcusable, but what sort of a God are we then portraying? He could have prevented your twelve-year old daughter from being kidnapped, raped and murdered – but He didn’t.

How cruel is that? If I stood by and did nothing while some crazy killed a child, wouldn’t I be guilty of complicity? Yet we have no idea how much and how often has God spoken to this person, urging him to turn away from evil thoughts and deeds. God has never adopted the policy of striking sinners dead — or Earth would be an empty planet!

In cases of a sudden heart attack or other non-violent death, it’s easier to find comfort in the thought that “His/her time was up.” Or “Their work on earth is done.” These thoughts do work sometimes. The world’s been saddened these past few weeks by the death of the beloved Queen Elizabeth. At age 96 and in relatively good health up until her death, I think we all feel that it was her time to go.

But can you imagine the guards at Auschwitz herding their prisoners into the gas chambers, saying, “It’s just your time to go.” Or worse, “God’s allowing this, so it must be His will.”

He Gives Us the Right to Choose

We read in the Bible that God id love, that He wants to be our Father, to guide and protect us. However, He wants to be a chosen parent, not one who forces His will on us.

Going all the way back to the Garden of Eden, when Eve reached out to pick that fruit and opened the door for sin, God could have slapped her hand. “I told you, ‘Don’t touch!’” But He didn’t.

God made his will clear then and it still stands: Mankind shall have the choice to obey Me or not.” Otherwise, in his Court of Justice, He must bring every one of us into account because we have all made wrong choices – and did it knowingly. I believe the verse that says, “God calls all men everywhere to repent,” but His kingdom is not a physical kingdom that citizens are born into, but a spiritual kingdom where all are subjects by choice.

Rather, just as He allowed Eve the choice to reach out and take something she knew was forbidden, so He allows us, all through our lives Christians and non-Christians, to reach out and take the thing we know is wrong, or harmful. To say the words we know we shouldn’t say: the lies, the scathing criticism, the accusations.

Looking back, I think of many times I wish God would have reached down and given me a slap before I said, or did, something. Yes, there was that tiny voice saying, “Don’t” but it’s so easily ignored. He allowed me to make my own choice – and suffer the consequence, the loss, the tears.

At times He does actually intervene and counter man’s will, upsetting the plans of evil people. Usually they happen when He steps in to protect His children from some harm, or lets His child know that the loving Father does care. We often call these miracles and they are happening all the time; I believe every Christian can tell you of an instance where “something told me” or they’ve been prevented from some action or heard a voice giving a clear instruction or answer.

Just one example: A Christian woman in the southern US was standing in her back yard during a wild storm, the tailings of a hurricane, when an inner voice told her, “Get out of this yard.” She obeyed, and a few minutes later a huge limb of a tree came crashing down right where she’d been standing.

Not to say God’s children will never come to harm, but sometimes we are supernaturally protected. Likewise instances like this happen to non-Christians: some little voice says, “Don’t go there.” or “Don’t do that.” The choice is left to them, to listen or to ignore.

Sadly, Christians who feel their Father forces His will on mankind, are inclined to carry this even farther. His way is right/best, so His will should be enforced on everyone, Christian or not. They may carry out personal acts of punishment – my next post will touch on this – or they get into politics and start making laws, Prohibition being the most notable fiasco.

This is our human way of keeping our fellow man in line – the legal hand-slap or lash – and it’s the only way the governments of this world have of preventing evil because they can’t speak to or change hearts. However, through the ages God has worked through the still small voice of conscience, a voice every person in this world hears.

Brushes, Candles & Drugs

Hello Everyone! I wonder what sort of a day you’re having?

So far this day has brought me a mixture of relief, celebration and sorrow. I’m relieved and relaxed because our Craft Sale is over. On Friday I was at my table at the Villa from 10am-5pm setting up, chatting with other vendors and customers, and selling a few of my pictures. I didn’t sell a lot, but then mine weren’t Christmas-themed like most of the items for sale. I should do some snow scenes to fit the season.

I’m putting my brushes away for a few days, but am happy in retrospect to have done the work even though I didn’t sell many paintings. Every bit of painting works toward improving. Also, I photocopied a dozen with the thought of sometime making note cards. And here’s one:

I did add more sky colors to the water on the left before I varnished it.
I have much to learn about reflections.

Re: the candles mentioned in my title. Today is our grandson’s 11th birthday, so there’ll be cake and candles and presents for him this evening.

Sad to say, a few tears have dampened the joy when I got the news that my sister Donna was found dead this morning. She turned sixty-six two days ago.

When we got home from church there was a message on our phone from my sister Wilma, saying she had to talk to me. Wilma has been living in Alberta for years; she and I have chatted a few times a year since our sister Rose died. So I knew this call was serious and suspected a death or accident — never dreamed it would be Donna, though. But then, I haven’t had contact with Donna for ages and had no idea she’s been a heavy drug user for years. The drug paraphernalia found with her indicates she likely died of an overdose.

I’m very sad about this. When we were younger I was close to Donna and have always cared very much for her in spite of our lack of contact. At our sister Rose’s funeral three years back Donna gave me a big hug and then disappeared, didn’t stay to talk with anyone. I knew her life wasn’t at all stable, but thought alcohol was the main issue. Her youngest son is apparently also heavy into drugs and is currently doing time at the correctional centre. So the authorities had no trouble locating him when his mom was found dead. An autopsy is pending.

Her oldest son is working in northern Alberta and can’t be contacted, so all the planning is falling on son #2, the one who has his head together. I talked with him this afternoon and we both grieved over his mom and their messed up home.

Obscurity

A few days ago I wrote a verse using an almost-obsolete word, GLOAMING. As you’ll see, the story I’m posting today includes several rarely used words, so get out your dictionary. 🙂 And since there’s no ending to my tale, you’ll have to use your own imagination to finish it.

A Sombre Tale

The night was rayless, the moon mist-embalmed, stars lost in the opacity. A solitary bobcat, its pupils expanded to let in what little light there be, listens for the slightest rustle.

Its ears twitch as unusual crunches echo though the bosque – something large and careless is lumbering by. The bobcat sniffs, detects the scent of a human on the nearby trail, and abandons his hunt. Not far away a rabbit, terror-frozen, listens as the pad of the cat’s feet grows faint. The rabbit, sensing hope of escape at last, bolts into the underbrush.

Unconcerned with other drama, or rather too consumed by his own, a man stumbles along the tenebrous trail. Leading the way, his flashlight’s beam flickers off small lumps and bumps on the path. In the circle of light slicing the darkness, the man finds courage to go forward with hesitant steps.

Just as his feet grope for safe footing on the rutted trail, so the man is feeling his way through the murk of his misgivings. As he advances, his mind sifts through the potential consequences that loom so large in the semi-darkness around him. Should he turn around? Should he forsake this quest?

His eyes strain to see village lights ahead, seeking encouragement and a moment of camaraderie at a place where shadowed souls like himself are gathering. A pinprick of streetlight winks through the trees, beckoning him on.

“One last time.” He whispers the promise into the darkened brake.
“Just this one last time.”

Today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt: IN THE CIRCLE

How to Be Cheerful

There are some game plans that sound totally illogical and backwards, but actually work. 🙂

How to Be Cheerful

by Edgar Guest

How to be cheerful, do you say,
when the wind is cold and the skies are gray?
How to be cheerful? Just one way:
forget yourself for awhile today.

Never mind self and your irksome cares.
Somebody else greater burden bears.
Stretch out a helping hand and play
the friend to all who may chance your way.

You’ll never be cheerful sitting there
sorrowing over the hurts you bear,
for never a joyous hour is known
by the man who thinks of himself alone.

How to be cheerful? Scatter cheer;
share your life with your neighbors here;
encourage the weary and comfort the sad*
and you’ll find more joy than you’ve ever had.

From his book, The Collected Works of Edgar A Guest
© 1934 by the Reilly & Lee company

*You may have to do this by phone until Covid-19 has been banished. 🙂

Frame by Free-creative at Pixabay

The Naughty Mite

An Old-Fashioned Caution

A naughty termite eyed a house
and said, “I’ll make you fall
with a little chomping here and there.”
So it chose a sturdy wall.

The house was made of robust beams
“I’ve stood a century!
Could stand a hundred more,” it bragged,
“Built from the strongest tree.”

Yet the old house shuddered softly;
what a sprightly mite might do!
And wished someone would squash the thing
as it commenced to chew.

The insect chewed both day and night;
the onslaught seemed quite small
yet the termite had colossal dreams
of seeing this house fall.

He chomped with such a fervent haste,
carved tunnels all around,
’til weakened finally, the wall
cracked and came crashing down.

The house, deprived of its support,
groaned sadly, then it buckled
and as the roof on the garden fell
that wicked termite chuckled.

So might some petty jealousy
though minuscule to start,
bring down a home, split dearest friends,
or break a tender heart.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: ROBUST
Word of the Day Challenge: SPRIGHTLY
My response is this adaptation of “The Ant and the Rubber Tree Plant.” 🙂