Wednesday, May 24, 2017

“Job-like” Questions and Anguish

I have questions this morning (and every morning and all day long)—like Job’s questions in the Old Testament—questions without answers.  These questions overwhelm me when I read or hear of incidents like that in Manchester, England,  or  the senseless murder of 23-year-old Richard W. Collins III (an about-to-graduate Bowie State University student) on the College Park campus of the University of Maryland just a few days ago.  Like Job of old, I ask, “Where is God in all of this? Why do the innocent suffer?”  

On January 2, 2006, two carts of miners entered the Sago Mine in West Virginia to begin the first shift after the holiday weekend.  A few minutes later an explosion trapped thirteen miners in the first cart two miles into the mine and 300 feet underground.  The entire country held its breath.  The little Appalachian community prayed.  Late Tuesday night, January 3, the national news services reported that twelve of the thirteen miners had been found alive.  Euphoria erupted, horns blared, sirens screamed, and church bells pierced the night at Sago Baptist Church where Governor Joe Manchin proclaimed a “miracle.”  But in a cruel twist of fate and miscommunication, three hours later the media reversed its report—twelve miners were dead and one alive, not twelve alive and one dead as earlier reported.  Pandemonium followed this announcement.  When the pastor of Sago Baptist Church urged families to look to God for help, a man shouted, “What the hell do you mean?  What can God do for us now?”  A distraught woman, her faced contorted with agony, cried out, “Where is God when we need him?  Is he really there?”

A renowned naturalist, Sir David Attenborough wrote:  “I frequently receive letters from people saying, in effect, ‘You’ve traveled around the world, you’ve seen all the marvels of nature, how could you not believe in a loving God who created the world.’  I reply to these letters by asking their authors to picture an eight-year-old child sitting by a river in Africa.  That child is guilty of nothing more than the usual childhood foolishness.  And yet there is a worm burrowing under that child’s eyelid, a worm that can only exist by burrowing under the eyelids of children, and it will cause that child to go blind and live out their life in disfigurement and pain.  How can you tell me that a loving God created that worm to do that to a child?”

Those who read this rant this morning may say, why don’t you give answers and not raise questions?  Why don’t you write about warm fuzzy things and not issues?  Why don’t you write about faith and not doubt?  Tell us about God (Love) being at the heart of all things.  But, I ask, in return, then what the hell do we do with REALITY?  What do we do with these Job-like questions and this Job-like anguish we feel in the midst of this REALITY?  Like Rilke, I live these questions awaiting  the answers that do not readily come.

Light?  Where is the Light?

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