Archive for September 2005

Hurricane Katrina

September 10, 2005

Good grief! I write about Job, and the next thing I know, something very Job-like happens to the people of the Gulf Coast.

I felt I should say something about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. I’ve been watching and listening to news reports sporadically. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t realize how bad the damage was at first. I don’t watch much television, finding most of it a colossal waste of time. In my blissful ignorance, I was vaguely aware that a hurricane was bearing down on New Orleans, but when I did watch and see–my God! The Gulf Coast, or what’s left of it, looks like Bangladesh or Afghanistan or some other third world country that Americans can usually conveniently ignore because it’s on the other side of the world. It’s hard to ignore tonight. All the broadcast networks are airing a benefit concert to raise money for the survivors.

For awhile, I was back to asking God that angry, accusing “Why? How could you allow this to happen?” An answer came to me. I don’t know how orthodox it is, strictly speaking, but it seems to make sense to me.

Perhaps God allows crises and disasters like hurricanes as tests–not necessarily of the person directly suffering from the disaster, but as tests of the people AROUND the person suffering. It seems as if God is saying to Christians, “OK, you people who are always talking about love and compassion and service, you people are you going to show love and compassion and give service when the need for these things is so obvious?” Christians are supposed to show practical charity (e.g., Matt. 25:31-46, Lk. 10:25-37, James 2:14-17), and we’re judged on how well we respond to another’s need.

I spent most of last weekend getting my personal finances in order so I can figure out how much of a donation I can give to the Red Cross or Catholic Charities or SOMEBODY. It’s a small response but I felt I had to do something.

From Job to Jesus

September 3, 2005

I’ve been meditating further on my return to faith from the brink of nonbelief, and it seems to me there’s one crucial step I left out. I suppose I took the same crucial step of faith the early Christians did. I went from acknowledging the awesome, mysterious transcendent God of the Book of Job to acknowledging the Jesus of the Gospels and the New Testament–a God who is just as awesome and mysterious and transcendent as the God of the Book of Job but who is made human and approachable through the Incarnation. The God of the Book of Job is willing to “bet “on human beings in their cosmic contest with the forces of evil, but the God revealed in the Gospels is willing to BECOME a human being. Jesus preaches with authority, casts out demons, forgives sins, heals the sick, commands the forces of nature, and feeds the hungry by supernatural means–things that only God could do–yet at various times in his ministry is hungry, thirsty, angry, scared, and lonely. Jesus experiences everything human beings experience (except sin), INCLUDING an apparently complete failure of everything he’d worked for, public humiliation, and an excruciatingly painful death. Christians have a God who knows what it is to suffer.

Of course, however, the Gospels don’t end with the suffering and death of Jesus. They end with the Resurrection. The message of the Gospels is that the power of God revealed in Jesus can overcome ANYTHING, even death itself. That is a God I want to believe in. That is a God I NEED to believe in.