I’m pretty sure tragedies can be wonderful things. In a controlled, organized and predictable environment, there is no room for faith to grow. We think we have a grip on life. We think we are at home when in fact we are promised that this is not our home. I have a steady income. I have a safe neighborhood. I have healthy children. The list goes on and on. We think we have it all figured out.
And the fascinating enigma remains that He who is the Ultimate Giver, often chooses to give in proportion to our expectations of Him. Can we live in a reasonably happy way if we don’t believe in God? Or if we have tiny, stunted faith that we always try to protect and hide and keep safe in our carefully administrated life? Sure. Why not. You might even skate through life without experiencing a major crisis… or you’ll manage just fine the smaller troubles that come your way. But this isn’t a life fully lived. This is a neutered, humanistic life that ignores that we are body and spirit. Physical reality can not contain His goodness and we have to let go of physical realities in order to taste His goodness. We have to recognize that we don’t see how this will work out. How stability will be reestablished. How it will be paid for. How health will be restored. How relationships will heal. If we knew the answers or if we constantly had the right plan, had the right 401K, had the right therapist, we’ve effectively squeezed God out of the way and have placed our trust in finite, physical things and people, subject to finite, physical laws. One of the interesting things about Hope, is that it requires heroic effort. Anxiety, worry and fear come easy; they are automatic… but to make a concerted effort to trust takes courage, exertion and determination. It means unbinding our chains to the limited world and reaching for higher things. Making the decision to hope is rejecting the shackles of pride and a self-inflicted shrinking heart. Sometimes things happen that are bigger than we are and there are no obvious answers…
Tragedies can be wonderful things. They wake us up to our mortal nature. To what weaklings we are. To the very real fact that He didn’t say “Apart from me, you can do some things.” But that He thrusts us right into the brutal and beautiful mystery that “Apart from Me, you can do NOTHING.” (John 15: 5) Crises shake us out of our comfort zone. They remind us who our Father is. They put you on the edge of a precipice and challenge you with questions that threaten to stall you through your whole life: “What’s it going to be? Do you think you can handle this? Who do you trust? Is your burden easy? Who’s in control? Who do you want to be in control? Why do you keep resisting me…?” And your choices are Self. Howling Wilderness. Or the Arms of Your Maker. I know my self is completely and utterly incompetent. And I’m terrified of the howling wilderness that offers only a wasteland of limited science, unreasonable relativism or depressing atheism to try and explain the world and the conundrum of suffering. I just can’t buy what they are selling. Never was particularly interested in paying for despair… so that only leaves one Place to go. One Person who transcends physical reality and physical tragedies to offer hope that it might not be easy, but we don’t have to go it alone.
Faith has nothing to take root in if we’ve got it covered ourself. It can’t grow in a sterile environment that we’ve carefully cultivated. It requires room to breathe and move and assert itself into the unknowns that daily life will always and ever present.
What is left then but Fear? And what good is that? Death comes for all of us eventually. What is to fear but sin? So we have to greet tragedies with a peaceful, if not hospitable, heart. We have to reject that repeating old wound of Eden that was not pride and was not greed… but much, much worse: Distrust in God. Distrust that He will provide all things. Can we let go enough to let Him? Can we kiss our Cross and praise Him for providing the rainstorm our seedlings of faith needed to grow?