a bad storm with heavy rain and high winds passed through our area a few days ago. all over our county and the neighboring counties, trees were downed, and power outages were widespread. we were fortunate that we suffered no damage or loss of power, but several of our neighbors had trees come crashing into their homes. the day after the storm, our local newspaper had a front page story on the havoc caused by the storm, and one person whose home had suffered major damage was quoted as saying that god had been good to them, sparing them from any physical harm. if "god" had protected them from harm, why hadn't "god" protected their home and the scores of other homes that had trees blown into them? why had their home been hit, when most other homes were unharmed? had they done something wrong that resulted in this god punishing them by causing the tree to fall on their home, while god spared them from injury?
i will never understand the worship of such a capricious god. so much of life is governed by happenstance. storms are ungovernable forces of nature. trees fall in storms for many reasons--sometimes the tree is weakened by disease, or it is of a type that has shallow roots that are susceptible to being blown over in water-soaked ground, some just happen to be in a spot where the winds of the storm are strongest. who knows? many trees fall without doing harm to people and homes. what does God have to do with any of this? God didn't cause the storm. God didn't direct the path of the wind. God didn't protect some homes while causing damage to others. If anyone or thing is to blame for this storm, it is us, who go about abusing our planet and increasing the likelihood of more and more violent storms. The same storm that wreaked so much havoc also brought about needed rain--blessings and curses from the same source, but the source wasn't God.
i am sorry that several homes were harmed by the storm. i am happy that ours was not among them. if the next storm blows one of our trees into our home, it won't be because God is sending us a message, and, if we escape damage, it won't be because God is protecting us. whatever the result of the next storm, that result will be caused by "that's just the way it is." we may thank God for being present with us in our suffering or our rejoicing, but God deserves neither credit nor blame for the random circumstances of life.
may we not fall into the trap of seeing God as the cause of some or all of the events of our lives. may we not look at what happens as some sort of signal from God. may we be grateful that we can live our lives using the resources we've been given, and may we accept blame for the misuse of those resources, striving always to live more skillfully. shalom.