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Terrible Circumstances

Annie Dillard, a Christian writer, says this:

God is no more blinding people with glaucoma or testing them with diabetes or purifying them with spinal pain or choreographing the seeding of tumor cells through lymph or fiddling with chromosomes than is he jimmying flood waters or pitching tornadoes at towns.

God is no more cogitating which among us He plans to place here as bird-headed dwarfs or elephant men or to kill by AIDS or kidney failure or heart disease, childhood leukemia, or sudden infant death syndrome, than He is pitching lightning bolts at pedestrians, triggering rock slides or setting fires.

The very least likely things for which God might be responsible are what insurers call "acts of God".

So Annie Dillard takes a very strong stand against the notion that we can blame God for the bad things of life. And I agree with her. It troubles me when people so frequently say, "It is God's will," in tragic circumstances. They usually mean well when they say it; they are trying to acknowledge God's omnipotence.

But I believe that God is not only all-powerful, but is he also a loving God. I don't believe it is His will to bring tragedy, heartache, and grief to the people he loves.

Here is a quotation from Dietrich Bonhoeffer that speaks to this:

We know, of course, that God and the devil are engaged in battle in the world and that the devil also has a say in death. In the face of death, we cannot simply speak in a simplistic way, 'God wills it', but we must juxtapose it with the other reality: 'God does not will it.'

Death reveals that the world is not as it should be, but that it stands in need of redemption. Christ alone is the conquering of death. Here, the sharp antithesis between 'God wills it' and 'God does not will it' come to a head and also find its resolution. God accedes to that which God does not will, and from now on, death itself must therefore serve God.

Though Bonhoeffer's statement is focused on death, I believe he would agree with me that so many things that the secular world places in the convenient box of 'God's will' are more likely to be things that God does NOT will.

God loves us.


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