Whenever a tragedy occurs, the human mind demands to know the cause. So the number-one question is “Why?”
Even though there may be inadequate factual information, it seems to soothe the mind to be able to designate a cause or to assign blame. When we are unable to discern an apparent human cause, frequently the blame is placed on God. The insurance industry affirms this by officially designating any natural disaster as “an act of God.” This may be good insurance industry policy, but it’s lousy theology.
Then there are those who feel they need to defend God in the face of tragedy and put a happy face on the situation, and so they declare, “It’s God’s plan” or “It was for their own good.” To deflect any questioning of their outrageous conclusion, they add, “It’s beyond our understanding!”
When I was taking clinical pastoral education training for chaplaincy, our wise supervisor was asked the “why” question. He answered, “God’s big enough to take care of Himself. You don’t need to defend Him.”
My God doesn’t kill babies. Though I may not understand why a small, vulnerable and helpless child may suffer unimaginable atrocities, I don’t believe such an act was any part of God’s planning, and I resent those clichés intended to end the questions.
It is apparent to me that there is another power at work in this world, whatever one may choose to call it. I call it evil. When tragedy strikes, though God doesn’t initiate it, plan it or execute it, out of His love and grace, He is able to bring healing, forgiveness and restoration.
In many years of working as a chaplain and many more years of sometimes painful living, I have determined that there are many difficult questions that have no adequate answers now.
by Chaplain Ron Hyrchuk
July 6, 2006