The complete destruction caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan had many asking, "Where was God in the Philippines?"* The devastation caused by hurricane Sandy*, as well as that of Katrina* in August of '05, prompted some to view the storms as having been sent by God. The earthquake in Haiti had Pat Robertson suggesting that God was behind this event.*
Some feel that God is angry and is punishing humanity through these events. Others recoil from that concept, believing that blaming God runs counter to everything God stands for.*
Is massive destruction the way God usually operates? What could He accomplish by this? Who is more likely to be the culprit of such devastation, and why would it be allowed?
For most of my half century, I felt confused about God. As a child I learned about the "lovely Jesus, meek and mild." Growing older I heard about Jesus' Father who sits in judgment of anyone who commits, or cherishes, one tiny sin, however small. One might say I grew up with a schizophrenic view of God. On one hand He loved me, but on the other . . .
I grappled alone with uncertainty. Each time I questioned an authority figure about this apparent dichotomy, I received pat, vague, and obscure answers. No one really had any idea how to relate to my wondering. Years later I listened, incredulous, as my older sister described her childhood questions and the explanations that spawned nightmares. Her account carried me back to my own dark, foreboding visions of the night.
I tired under the burden of confusion. Eventually I would come to understand God is not the confusing character so many represent. In fact, I did come, eventually, to love, yes, even adore Him. The early stages of my quest, however, often felt as though I were "swimming up stream."
My journey began when I recognized I knew a lot about but did not truly know God. Reaching a low point in my life, and believing the way to know Him was through the Bible, I vowed to read through the entire Bible asking questions about who, what, and why. With each thought, I asked, "What does this tell me about God, and is He the kind of person I want to know?" I desired becoming personally acquainted with the God of the Bible without another human teaching me about Him.
With my schizophrenic understanding of God, imagine my joyful surprise to learn from the Bible itself, "lovely Jesus, meek and mild" came to this world, in fact, to reveal to me (human kind) the truth about His Father. Reading on, I discovered an amazing story.
A story making Hollywood fiction seem like childish drivel. The sensational drama of an angel living in the very presence of God, who, for reasons known only to himself, determined to lead an insurrection against the Creator. This rebel angel's most potent strategy would prove to be a campaign of disinformation against God. A devious scheme to portray the Creator as arbitrary, vengeful, angry, and uncaring- desiring only strict obedience. In short, this evil enemy would make God look like the devil!
Leading one third of the angels of heaven in his fight to take over the universe, the father of all rebels brought his disinformation campaign to the newly created earth. Through a sly deception, our first parents were convinced to join the rebellion. While this melancholy story explains the origin of evil, to end here would do the truth about God an injustice.
Most of humankind, including many who sincerely desire to be true believers, have fallen for the lies and deceits of the master rebel. God, though, was not to be defeated by guile. His reaction was twofold. First, he allowed the rebels to carry their plans to the point that the entire universe could see the fruition of the plan. Second, God determined to come Himself, becoming and living as a man, to demonstrate not only the effects of the rebellion, but also the truth about Himself. He would bare the deceiver's lies and allow the universe to view the evil one as he is.
An abbreviated comparison, as I see it, plays out like this:
While the story is not over, the end is in sight. The truth is available to me, and all humankind, if I, we, will see it. The greatest example of the truth about God, as well as the truth about evil, is seen on a wooden cross two thousand years ago.
At a place known by the world as Calvary, the curtain is drawn aside for me to observe the truth. I see on a cloud shrouded hill a God unwilling to allow His creation to perish without a chance to see the healing truth about Himself. I see God who uses only truth against deception of every kind. I see God living among humans to demonstrate His own character. I see a God who lived for 30 years as a human and allowed His creation to carry out a torturous death decree against it's Creator in order for me to hear his declaration of love.
I see a God longing for me to know the consequences of rebellion so I need not experience the separation from my loving God first hand. I see a God who, sacrificing Himself, leads me in the way of healing from the effects and control of rebellion. I see a God who choosing to accept responsibility Himself for the actions and rebellion of His own creation feels the pain of separation.
Finally, I meet a God nothing like the ogre the evil leader of the rebellion and his legions have made Him out to be. I found Him a God who is so full of love and compassion for His creatures, He endured every conceivable injustice. I see Love personified. I see God!
And that, my friend is Good News!
We are most interested in hearing responses to these thoughts. Is this the way you picture God? What different concepts have you found that give you peace and comfort? How have you arrived at your own view of God? Does this picture of God make you uncomfortable? We'd love to hear from you!