After yesterday’s terrorist attack in France, a dear friend from high school, Jeff Pearlman, sent me a Facebook message:
How do you maintain your faith when so much bad happens? Just curious–nothing to read into.
Jeff recently wrote a piece on his blog (http://www.jeffpearlman.com/blog/) called Death and Paris. I read that first, and then I responded with this…
Hello, my friend. I had to drink a cup of coffee before sitting down to write a response to you this morning. I’m afraid you’re not going to like my answer though….I just do. My belief in God is so rock solid that it is like a check box on a scantron form. Do you believe in God/Jesus/Holy Spirit? Yes or No? I fill in the “Yes” bubble. The fact that bad things happen in this world has no effect on my faith. Just like if my whole body was burned in a fire, I wouldn’t have to think about whether or not to bubble in “White” as the color of my skin. It just is.
Everybody wants somebody to blame. Some blame Muslims, because hey, let’s group in an entire religion of millions of people and make them pay for the sadistic acts of a handful of them. This method doesn’t float with me. I recently learned that I am the great-granddaughter of a Nazi! Great-grandpa disowned his son (my grandfather) because he decided to join the US Army so that he could fight with the Americans against the Germans in WWII. If the “blame the Muslims” theory is right, then I guess I’d be equally guilty as the Nazis for the holocaust just because I have a German ancestor that I never even met. Not!
Then there are those who blame Christians and Jews because they are so pushy with their doctrine and everything about “them” is conceited and arrogant. Even you yourself said “I can’t stomach people trusting ancient religious texts over logic and scientific fact.” (Ouch, by the way!) You and I both know there is as much scientific/historical fact to prove the veracity of those religious texts as there isn’t. No one way is better than the other. You choose to believe that it is illogical and I choose to believe that it is completely logical. So once again, I, as a Christian, should take the blame for the heinous acts of these sick individuals just because I don’t believe what they believe? I don’t think so.
…and then there’s God. Let’s blame Him since He’s the “cause” of all this. People are killing other people because of Him so how can He not take the blame? Also, He is the Almighty Creator so He has the power to stop this in an instant, so isn’t that a good reason to point the finger at Him as well? The challenge in defending God to someone who does not have faith is that it is extremely difficult to prove why bad things happen in a fallen world when the person(s) I am trying to explain it to are person(s) who don’t even believe that He exists! So how could they possibly understand why I, as a Christian, do not blame my Father for the evil that exists in the world? BUT, I guess that is a bit of a cop out and it allows me to avoid your question. (Ahhhh, peace from Pearlman. Lol!) BUT, I’m not going to leave it at that. In order to answer your question though, I’m going to have to make some presumptions.
I will presume that the person(s) that I am talking to has a bit of faith…that they believe that God exists and that’s it. They don’t have to be a Christian or a Jew or a Muslim, just a believer in God (someone who trusts in one of those ancient religious texts that you can’t stomach). IF said person(s) have that belief and that belief alone, then they would also acknowledge that God is the Creator. He created plants, animals, the world, people, etc. That being said, just as in the above examples, why should a parent be blamed for the heinous choices of His children? He is no more to blame for their choices than I am for my great-grandfather’s choice to be a Nazi. Yes, He created the people who are committing the atrocities, but He is not the one doing it.
I know what you are going to say, but if He’s “God” then He could stop it from happening…and He doesn’t. So why would you choose to believe in a Creator like that?
I cannot speak for anyone but myself. I don’t claim to have all the answers—I definitely do not! I do not tell anyone that they should or shouldn’t believe in God and I don’t hate, loathe, or even dislike people who don’t agree with what I believe. My belief is that GOD IS LOVE and I wholeheartedly believe that love is the common bond among all of His creation. (Just last week I created a blog and I plan to write about this stuff. Yikes! God help me. My head hurts already just responding to you!) As difficult as it may be to have faith and see His love in a time such as this; it is there. There are those who choose to focus on and believe in the anger, hate, revenge, blame, and resentment, but I choose love. Love is in the response of those who aided the people injured in the terrorist attacks. Love is in the outpouring of affection and messages and prayers and posts and pictures by those of us who live thousands of miles away. Love is in the hearts and actions of the people in Paris and in all of France who are at this moment holding their families tighter and forgiving past hurts and recognizing that our time here is limited. Love is in acknowledging the commonalities among us as humans rather than focusing on the dividers of ethnicity, religion, politics, and race.
And in the end, if love is to win, then we have to believe in it.