Tuesday, February 01, 2005

God's Existence Seen in Response to Massive Tragedy

In the movie, The Color Purple, a woman victimized in countless ways was at the end of her rope when a new friend came into her life. That friend supported and encouraged her. So much so that the victimized woman was later able to say, "When you walked in the room, I knew there was a God."

Back when I was an atheist, I used the world's tragedies as proof that God didn't exist.

I later became convinced that my revulsion in the face of tragedy was an indicator of the existence of God. After all, if there is no God, then there are no sustainable standards of good and bad. Without God, life would be nothing more than survival of the fittest until we all meet our eventual and final demise.

But, I was forced to wonder, where did this idea of right and wrong, of justice and injustice, come from?

Where had the whole human race gotten its notions that it's a good thing to love others and that tragedy is an unnatural defilement of our lives?

Could it be that there is a God Who planted these ideas in us?

Is it possible that, as the Bible insists, God has written His law onto our hearts?

Eventually though, something else happened to convince me of God's existence.

My wife walked into my life. Friends walked into my life. No matter how cynical I became, how certain the world was just a bad job and I needed to look out for number one and eat, drink, and be merry, God kept sending unselfish, kindhearted friends into my life.

I know that they came from God because they were all His unabashed followers.

When they walked into my life, I simply knew that there was a God.

This is the way God works. The Bible says that believers in Jesus are His body--hands and feet and mouths and ears--in this world. And in Jesus' famous parable (or story) about the end of the world (Matthew 25:31-46), He says that whenever we reach out to others in love, we're seeing Him, God in the flesh, in them.

The International Red Cross has announced that through the generosity of people from throughout the world, they have sufficient funds for their short- and l0ng-term relief and rehabilitation program in the Indian Ocean region hit by the December 26 tsunami.

This is a God-moment!

We in the rest of the world saw the plight of the tsunami victims and our consciences were pricked. We looked at their tragedy and intrinsically knew that we couldn't simply stand by with a "survival of the fittest" mentality. In our guts, hearts, and wills, we knew that we needed and wanted to help, at least with our money.

Many would have loved to have helped in other ways. Several people told me, "I wish that I could go over there and help out." So strong was the impulse to provide personal assistance that several international organizations had to say, in effect, "We appreciate your desire to provide hands-on aid. But please stay home and send money for now. That's the best way you can help."

Who created that compassion?

Was it the result of a media blitz? The media certainly covered the story. But the media give intense coverage to all sorts of stories. The response to the tsunami wasn't a manipulated reaction.

The world unaffected by the tsunami reacted as it did because, I believe, of God's existence. And that's true whether those whose hearts were stirred are believers in God or not. God plants compassion in us. When the tsunami happened, that compassion blossomed.

For those whose lives are being slowly healed and transformed by the compassion of strangers thousands of miles away, there is an experience of God. They experience kindness and concern. God has walked into their lives.

There are millions of other tragedies that happen in our world each day. If we're attentive to the lives of others, each of these tragedies present us with opportunities to be the hands and feet of God. Not with syrupy, condescending help and certainly not with "Praise the Lord" platitudes or obnoxious four-point witnessing programs.

Instead, we can simply walk into others' lives with listening ears, open hearts, and relevant help and give them hope when all seems lost.

That's how God works. That's how God is working now. Just open your eyes and your mind and you'll see it. Just open your will and you can be part of it!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am having a hard time with the God thing since I went to the Museum of Tolerance yesterday. It's all about the holocaust. I met a holocaust survivor there also and she told me her story. I cried and I gave her a hug, that's all I could do. So much suffering this woman endured and not to mention all the people who survived and the ones who didn't. If there is a God then why did the Holocaust happen? Why were so many people murdered? Why? I'm struggling here and I can't make sense of out of it. It puts me in a precarious position regarding faith.
Thanks for listening.