The Substance of Faith

The Substance of Faith

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After the Storm

When I was a pastor in Nashville, a little girl with Downs Syndrome had battled back from near death, following surgery to repair the hole in her heart.  Along with dozens of other people,  I prayed for her daily. She finally turned the corner in her recovery and all looked well.  The next day a brown recluse spider found its way into her ICU crib and bit her.

A spider that lives in the shadows and prefers dark corners came into a brightly lit, clean hospital room, found its way into her crib and bit her.  Once again she nearly died.  I remember being angry with God, wondering why God couldn’t have stopped that spider.  Why didn’t God nudge it to go another direction?   And then God spoke to me.  Not an audible voice, but as clear as if it were.  “Why do you think you love that child more than I do?”  Yes, who was I to think that?  Okay, God loves her – and God loves each precious child killed this week in Oklahoma.  But how do I explain why the spider bit that little girl or why  a tornado crushed those children in Oklahoma?

The day that I became so angry with God I settled my understanding of natural evil in the world: creation is broken.  Archbishop William Temple once wrote, “It is quite impossible to estimate the amount of harm done by our habitual limitation in the use of the word ‘sin’ to describe deliberate wrong doing.  Everything about us is sin if it is not what God wants it to be.” (Christian Faith and Life, p. 61)   The world does not work the way God intended when God created the heavens and the earth.  The world about us is not the way God wants it to be.  Thus, the “fall” doesn’t simply apply to humanity, but to all creation.  In Genesis 3:17 God says to Adam, “Cursed is the ground because of you…”   Paul continues the theme in Romans 8 – “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope  that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.  We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”

Sin is more than our deliberate wrong doing.   It is a power loose in the world, distorting God’s intended order.   As a result, cells go crazy and become cancer.   A spider bites a child instead of its natural prey. Wind becomes a twisted, consuming storm.  Yes, creation is broken.  Sin damaged God’s intention and the consequences catch many in its wake.

I believe God cares more than we do when these things happen.  Sin hijacked God’s world, not ours.  In the midst of sin’s destruction, God inspires us to respond to those caught in the crush.   It is in the response of God’s children that we see the will of God in the storm.

 

 

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Thanks, Joel, for this thoughtful and honest response to the Oklahoma tornado. Indeed, creation is broken, and I agree that we see the will of God in the response of God’s children.

Anne Trudel

May 22, 2013

Thanks, Anne. It’s good to hear from you. I’m glad this struck a chord with you.

Joel

jsnider

May 22, 2013

Joel,
Saw this on Facebook through Winnie Little. Just wanted to say hello. I am currently at Immanuel Baptist in Lexington, KY serving as Missions Pastor. Hope all is well with your family. Alyssa just got married and Ryan graduated from UK a few weeks ago.

Jeff Story

May 22, 2013

Jeff: We are all well. Both girls are married. Rachel is moving to Spain with USN. Jordan has our one grandchild. Life is good. My best to Rhonda.

Joel

jsnider

May 22, 2013

I love your insights and thought -provoking writing.

Virginia Jackson

July 14, 2013

Thanks for your kind comment, Virginia. I’ve not heard from you in a while. I hope all is well for you.

Joel

jsnider

July 15, 2013