Tuesday, January 1, 2013

God Bless Us, Every One!

during advent, my wife and i saw a musical production of "a christmas carol."  it was an excellent production with good singers and effective staging.  the sets were especially impressive.  the boy who played tiny tim had a lovely voice, but one of the songs that tiny tim sang troubled me.

this song suggested that tiny tim had been made lame so that people would see him and his positive outlook on life and be inspired to look at their own attitudes.  tiny tim's affliction, according to the song, was a gift that caused people to think, "if this boy with his physical limitations can be happy, then we, who have no such handicaps, should be happy, too."  i know that there are suggestions of this same attitude in the gospels.  in john 9, jesus is asked why a man has been made blind: was it his own sin or that of his parents?  jesus replies that his blindness has been caused so "that the works of God should be made manifest in him."

i won't try to explain away the words of jesus, but i don't believe that God would inflict blindness or make someone lame for any reason.  what kind of God would cause someone to endure years of darkness so jesus could cure that person to teach onlookers a lesson?  what kind of God would prevent a child from enjoying the normal play of childhood so that others could be taught what happiness is?  certainly not the God i worship.  if i believed that God would do such things, i would not believe in God at all.

bad things happen to people.  these things are not inflicted by God to teach them or us anything.  it is a part of life.  we lose loved ones, our jobs are taken from us, homes burn, innocent children are slaughtered by mad men.  God suffers with us through these tragedies, but God is not the cause of any of this.  we may learn from our own suffering or the suffering of others, but that suffering is not inflicted because God wills it.

my prayer for myself and you this day is that we accept that everything is imperanent, both our joys and our sorrows.  everything passes away except love, so let us cling to love through all the vagaries of life.  shalom.

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