Beautiful Things

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It’s hard to believe anything good could come from the ravages of a horrific storm. We see the wreckage, the ruins. We feel the sting of loss. Nothing can minimize the toll such destruction takes on our lives.

Dare we question God, wondering how he of such great power could allow such immense devastation? If he is good, how is it possible for such tragedy to terrorize the earth? Could it be that creation itself has joined humanity in its rebellion against the creator? And if so, why does he not exert his control over all his hands have made?

These questions have haunted even the most devout of faith throughout history, weaving intricately through verses of psalms and prophets alike.

If you’ve ever felt alone in your suffering, read the Bible. Some of the greatest heroes endured the deepest of suffering—from slavery to poverty, persecution to famine, political oppression and injustice. Yet all emerged with one resounding refrain, “For the Lord is good, and his mercy endures forever.”

This, written from wilderness caves, exile, captivity, and prison cells. This, written from the darkest of pits. How could such a bold declaration of God’s goodness arise amidst the worst of life’s horrors?

Maybe a rephrasing of the initial question will shed light on the answer. Instead of asking how a good God could allow such suffering, we can ask: if God were not good, could anything of worth come from all the bad we experience?

Somehow, humanity has survived for decades, centuries, millennia, despite all the evil that opposes life itself. Somehow, we have endured. Somehow, we have overcome. Somehow, we have chosen to keep on living.

I would think that if the earth were immersed in such utter darkness and evil, life would not prevail apart from the power of good, which is ultimately the power of God. Apart from the goodness of God, sheer darkness would set in with no hope of light.

Maybe storms themselves come to strip away all that is not of value, so that what is of greatest value can emerge. This is not to devalue lives lost in the process in any way. But something happens in the midst of loss. Beautiful things grow despite the devastation.

Against the backdrop of our country’s most destructive hurricane, a people marked by racial tension and strife have come to remember things of greater importance. My pastor said it’s as if the storm washed away all that’s not of God—the division, the hatred, the bitterness, the pride, the greed. A people divided have come together in recognition of what is truly of value. The grounds have been watered for new life to spring up, in its time.

I don’t claim to have everything all figured out. I would never consider myself a theological expert on suffering. But I will say that it would be impossible for anything good to come out of all the bad if God himself were not good. Because only a good God can make something beautiful out of the ashes of loss.

 

Photo Credit: File:Flickr – paul bica – after the storm.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

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