Yes. One of the risks of believing in God is when tragedy strikes, when a rape has not been stopped, we feel as though God was somehow absent…uninterested…or powerless to stop such a heinous act.
Even Jesus questioned his faith and his God when he uttered these words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” as he hung dying on a cross.
With the shocking and tragic bombing in Boston and horrible explosion in Texas this month, I know doubts have risen up. Believers ask “Why would God let these things happen? Why, God, do innocent people have to suffer or die? Where were you, God?”
Meanwhile, others are saying, “You foolish people. Where is your god now?”
And so my heart sinks.
When the only understanding of God is that of some kind of superhero who is supposed to stop rapes, bombings, and explosions from happening, the transformational power of faith is missed.
When my own life takes a turn for the worst, I definitely ask “Why?” (with a few expletives thrown in, believe me). But I do not question, “Why me?” I consider instead, “Why now, God?” And “What now?” I do not believe that I suffer or struggle because God was absent in my life or knowingly allowed something to happen as a form of punishment.
Believing in God means instead that I am challenged to look beyond the suffering and to ask, “What am I to learn? How am I to grow from this? Where do I go from here? What message of hope can I carry to others? How, with God’s help, will this darkness, this pain or this loss be transformed into Christ’s Light, Spirit’s comfort and God’s grace-filled joy?”
I make no assumptions that believing in God means that my life is going to be easy and without tragedy. My faith is not that simplistic. Violence happens. Accidents happen. Death and loss happen.
Which brings us back to the beginning.
Believing in God is risky.
Tragedy strikes and we question, with no simple answers to be found. Instead we discover a long journey where doubt and anger, grief and pain await us. We fall prey to the whispers of bystanders who claim we were alone all along and we wonder why God has forsaken us.
I meet many people in my hospice work who have gotten stuck at this part of the journey. Their faith cannot bring them beyond their betrayal of the superhero God who should have been there in their time of need.
They are unable to move through the pain to experience God’s power of transformation.
This is why I am a person of faith.
In my own life and others, I have witnessed rage melt into serenity and bitterness evolve into forgiveness. I have watched the darkness of grief transform into brilliant joy. I have seen people’s lives take on unexplainable changes for the better…because they took the risk to believe in a God who would not leave them in a state of brokenness. I am blown away, time and time again, when I see these transformations.
It is a risky business this thing called faith.
But I encourage you to take the risk. Go beyond a simplistic understanding of the Holy, release all the crap that is weighing you down (anger, fear, resentment, doubt, heartache, pain), give your brokenness over to God, and discover the beauty and grace of transformation.