I read a blog the other day that cited some statistic, of something like 127 Christian blogs, only 9 talk about the tragedy in Asia this week. I want to suggest that this sentiment itself is misguided. I’m sure I could come up with 9 mentions of it in just the few blogs I read, but that isn’t my point. To insist that the omission of a post about the tragedy is uncaring amounts to mere legalism. Other blogs discuss the tragedy much better than I, and provide a better set of links to aid agencies than what I could compile. To insist that because I blog I must duplicate the efforts of others to “cover” the tragedy and urge a response is simplistic and naieve.
On the question of where God is in this mess, John Piper answers better to remind us of God’s sovereignty. My own view is that God’s ways are so much different to mine. If I (or you) were in charge, things would of course be different, and this tragedy might not have occured. On the other hand, between me and God, only one of us keeps the stars of the universe in place simply by willing it to be so. And in these matters I must therefore trust his wisdom more than my own. I do know that although it ocured within his permissive will, he grieves this tragedy as well. I do not have chapter and verse to offer, as I know this somewhat experientially…
Some dozen or 14 years ago, my wife and I had a tradition of going out for breakfast, just the two of us on Sunday mornings before church. Nothing fancy mind you, we were on a budget we would stop at A&W and have breakfast while we watched CNN on the television screens they had placed around the restaurant. One Sunday morning while we were sitting there, I was sipping my coffee and watching the TV screen. They were showing footage and talking about devastating flooding that had been going on in China at that time. I saw carnage and tragedy everywhere in that footage, and in my heart I asked God what he felt about it. In my mind’s eye, where I often “see” what God wants to speak to me, I saw a single teardrop. I knew that this tear had come from the face of God, and that this single teardrop contained more water than all the flooding depicted on the TV screen in front of me. What I saw of God’s heart in that fleeting moment somehow broke mine and forever changed it.
God does not see things as we do, as one tragedy so gargantuan that it defies description. At best we see individual stories that CNN or BBC or CBC or whoever send back, one person’s story of losing everything, and we can lock our minds on the tragedy to that person so as to “humanize” the mass destruction, though in reality unless we are personally acquanted with several affected individuals, we will still tend to get it boiled back down to a single tragic event. But what God sees is far worse, beyond what we could possibly bear to imagine: to him it is a vast number of individual tragedies in the lives of people he loves. He sees each one of these horrors individually and simultaneously, and he feels – and bears – all of that pain.