Does God Care?
Tsunamis in Japan, earthquakes in New Zealand, civil war in Libya – is there no end to the unremitting news of disaster and tragedy? It seems as though the world bounces from one crisis to another (remember Haiti?) with yet more images on our TV screens of the effect on traumatised families. Where is God in all this? Does he even care? These might be questions we ask ourselves when we experience suffering, tragedy and loss in our own lives. The pain of heart break and bereavement is real and affects us deeply. The question is often voiced out of a sense of anger and frustration that life is not as orderly and ‘safe’ as we would like it to be. We believe it to be our right to enjoy a way of life unaffected by anything untoward. If God is there at all, surely it is his responsibility to guarantee such a state of affairs for us. The existence of God surely implies a world which is friendly towards us and in which we are protected from harm.
So, back to the original question: Does God Care?
Before I answer that question let me first say that the God we follow is not removed from the suffering of the world or the suffering we experience in our lives and is by no means unmoved by it. The Bible tells us that the world God created was made perfect in every way and human kind was entrusted with stewardship and the authority to care for it. But with human rebellion and the fall into sin our relationship with God has become fractured and so the world for which we have responsibility and for which we have been given authority to care, finds itself in a disordered relationship with God.
Paul, in his letter to the Romans writes of the whole of Creation ‘groaning’ like a woman in labour, longing for the full restoration of human kind and with it, its own restoration and healing. Natural disasters, whether caused by the movement of tectonic plates and other similar events are all expressions of this ‘groaning’, consequences of the Fall of the human race and of the world as a whole. Let’s be very clear about this. Natural disasters do not bear witness to a God who does not care, far less to a God who inflicts bad things on people. What they do bear witness to however is a world which is not as it is meant to be, a world whose stewards have not followed the Makers instructions and are suffering the consequences as a result.
Although God does not cause these events to happen, they can serve a positive function in God’s overall purposes. Rather in the same way as symptoms of a disease alert us to the fact that something is out of order in our physical bodies, so disasters and other such events are symptoms designed to alert us that something is seriously wrong with the world and its people. They wake us up to the fact that we are out of step with God and need to find help and rescue.
The Easter Event
The God whom we follow is not removed from the suffering of this world and far from unmoved by it. Out of desperate concern for this broken world and in the face of human inability to sort out the mess we have got ourselves into, God entered into the world in the person of Jesus. He himself understands the experience of being at the mercy of cruel forces and powers, of being a displaced person, of loss and bereavement and of injustice and the unpredictability of human life. But his life, death and resurrection is the only guarantee of healing and hope for this broken world which will continue to groan until Christ returns in glory finally to restore all things. So does God care? Yes, he does. He cares enough to give up his only Son so that the process of restoration can begin.
May we have confidence to witness to these great truths as we journey towards the events of Good Friday and Easter Day.
In Christ, Stephen