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Where was God when Dorian hit? Theologizing human suffering

Dear Editor,

I begin with two insightful passages of scripture:

Isaiah 22:5 which states, “For it is a day of trouble, and of treading down, and of perplexity by the Lord God of hosts in the valley of vision, breaking down the walls, and of crying to the mountains.”

Job 2:6 which states, “And the Lord said to Satan, Behold, he is in your hand; but save his life.”

The age-old question about human suffering, wrong and evil, came to the fore again due to the devastation, destruction and even death which Hurricane Dorian caused.

Pain, suffering and hopelessness pierced our souls, and personally, I was gripped with a sense of helplessness.

 

Why God, why?

In the face of the devastation, we do wonder, “Why, Lord?” “What is God saying?” “Why does a loving, all-powerful God permit these things?” “Where is Almighty God in all this?”

Mind you, when good things happen, when we are recipients of multiple blessings, we take the credit and most times we make no reference to God.

The problem of human suffering, especially those that come from nature’s fury, accidents and structured, intentional evil, all point in one direction. Since so much evil exists, then an omnipotent, loving God must not exist.

For many persons, all this suffering, destruction and death all prove that there is no God – and if He does exist, He is just not involved in human activity, nor does He care. (Agnosticism)

 

Is not God all powerful?

Agnostics, atheists and skeptics say there is no God, and when you see all this destruction, you must conclude that a loving God does not exist. And if there is a God, He cannot be omnipotent.

If God is able, but not willing, then He must be malevolent.

If God is able and willing, then why does he allow such destruction and death?

If God is neither willing nor able to stop all this destruction, then why call him God? 

The argument and core of that position is compelling and attractive; and most thinking people wrestle with atheistic and agnostic thoughts.

 

Our sense of right
and wrong

However, even a fifth-grade dropout might ask in the face of human suffering, wrongdoings, evil and storms, from whence cometh our sense of right and wrong? Why do we have a deep repugnance against wrong?

We believe that life should be better even when we participate in wrong things.

A man only calls a line crooked because he has a sense of what a straight line looks like.

Human suffering and evil do not negate God. In fact, they indicate the human need to connect – or reconnect – with God.

One philosopher said, “If there was no God, humans would have to create one.” We need a source, a spirit, a power outside of ourselves.

Human history is replete with the incidences of wrong, destruction and suffering – and we need a power outside ourselves.

We hate and despise human suffering because we harbor, on a subliminal level, a better life.

In Christian understanding, God’s permissive will cannot overtake His ultimate purpose.

In the biblical story of Job, a perfect and upright man loses everything. We should note that God “accommodated” Satan and gives him permission to assault Job.

God permits Satan to afflict Job because He knew Job would still worship Him. (Job 1: 20)

By the way, look at the story – be it anecdotal or real: God calls a heavenly meeting for His sons, and Satan comes into the meeting. God does not bind him, or rebuke Satan, but points him to his servant Job.

God points out Job to Satan and gives Satan permission to afflict Job.

People, even nations who serve God, sometimes experience great tragedies – often because God knows that the people, unlike some others, will never “curse God and die”.

We prove God exists because we reach outside of ourselves for something better than where we are on this mundane level of existence.

God is mysterious

This transcendent God is shrouded in mystery. The finite cannot fully comprehend infinity.

The pain of human suffering is eclipsed by the inescapable truth that we are more than flesh and blood, arteries and capillaries. We are spiritual beings and something in each of us longs to reconnect with that God who transcends the physical frame and the seasons.

I believe in God

Every bad thing that happens to us, even those which we cause to ourselves, pushes us to the powerful, spirit being outside ourselves.

He is mysterious, but you need not doubt Him. Like Job, worship Him even when everything is going wrong.

I believe in God because the complexity of the human make-up points to a deliberate creator who creates and sustains.

I believe the universe had a start. Who started it?

I believe God exists because He pursues us.

We want good things because of our concept of a good God.

I believe in God because the historical facts show that Jesus Christ walked the earth as a physical manifestation of God involved in human history.

In your time of tragedy, you need not doubt God’s existence. And even if you deny His existence, He will never deny that you’re created by Him to give Him praise and worship.

As hard as it is to accept, is there another nation on this region that could have withstood Dorian as The Bahamas has?

God’s ultimate purpose is for our good and we will discover that good when we worship Him in spite of calamities.

Where was God during Hurricane Dorian? He was right where He was when His son hung on the cross for you and for me – and we all know the victorious, world-changing end to that story.

 

– Bishop Simeon B. Hall

Senior Pastor Emeritus

New Covenant Baptist Church

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