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Where Is the Church When You Need It?

July 5, 2013

Recently a woman told me she’d lost her faith when her father died when she was 12. Charles Darwin lost his faith in God when his daughter died. And we have all heard – or asked – the question, “If there is a God, why does he allow this?”

Two questions immediately suggest themselves to my mind when I hear this. One is: where was the church when these tragedies happened? The second is: how come, in the past, tragedies didn’t use to make people disbelieve in God, but now they do?

And is there a connection between the two?

Part of the answer, no doubt, is that nowadays we focus so much on our rights; every time something horrible happens, media teach us to ask: who is to blame? Could it have been avoided? Somehow we think we have the right to have nice, trouble-free lives. In the past, I think people were more aware of how dangerous life is, and there were no guarantees of happiness. Maybe living in a dangerous world made people less prone to blame God every time things went wrong?

But I also wonder if part of the answer lies in my first question. We who belong to Jesus are supposed to be there for each other; nobody can really be a Christian in “splendid isolation”. Church is a family, a fellowship, not a society for religious ceremonies, and we’re called to “carry each other’s burdens” (Gal 6:2). If somebody had demonstrated the love of God in a tangible, credible way to Charles Darwin or the twelve-year-old who lost her father, maybe they wouldn’t have lost their faith?

In the book “When Heaven Is Silent” by Ronald Dunn, he tells of struggling with depression after his son’s suicide: “I found more understanding from the world than … from the Church; I wasn’t afraid to speak of my feelings to the world – I was afraid where the Church was concerned” (p. 142). How tragic!

As Christians we mustn’t be scared of suffering, or feel we need to have an answer for everything. God didn’t send us a theological treatise; he came in person. We need to do the same. We need to be there for each other, and for others that suffer. Until God finally sorts out this broken, malfunctioning world, we need to help bring his love and compassion into people’s struggles and suffering. How else will the world see that God is love?

 

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From → Christianity, Faith, Jesus

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