I attend a baptist church in a small town. That is a bit different than saying that "I am a baptist" but still, close enough for most. Baptists, if one didn't know are rather conservative. That is to say, when my old pastor came upon me in the local grocery store with a 30 pack of bud light under the basket...well, he was nice...but I don't think I ever lived that down in his mind. Good baptists don't drink, smoke, dance or gamble. (Well, one out of four aint bad!) (Brings up the old joke about the guy who says he's a old time baptist, pats his shirt pocket and say's "Sh**, I'll bet you a hundred dollars I left my cigaretts at the bar in the dance hall!"
Anyway. Some Baptists also deal with tragedy in a way which is difficult for me to swallow. When bad things happen, they first ask themselves if there is any "unconfessed sin" in their life. I don't. Remember, I just attend a baptist church and keep my amazement to myself. If anything causes me to tumble down the hill over my faith however it is that belief, as well as this one: Someone dies, gets shot, loses a child to an illness, whatever and their self-soothing is, "I know this is God's will." or "I know this is all part of His plan for me."
I've worked really, really hard on that and two things come to mind:
1) If I am a competent enough father to find ways to teach my daughter things she needs to know without kicking her in the literal or figurative gut...I believe God can do the same.
My plan for Dora is that she never get electrocuted. I'm not going to cause her to lose her hands so she never has an opportunity to stick them in the light socket. Now, if she does step outside of my plan and sticks something in the light socket and I'm not around to help, she will suffer. That's NOT my plan for her; in fact it is way outside of my plan for her. So there she is, lying on the floor unconscious, her hand black from an electrical burn. I would immediately swoop her up in my arms and rush her to the hospital. I would do everything in my power to help her overcome and live on despite her bad choice. Thus, I would continue to work out my plan for her, despite the obstacle she thrust in my way. Perhaps her bad experience would be useful to her in the future. But it was not in my plan...and I didn't cause it to happen...and I didn't NEED for an accident to occur to get her attention. I'm competent enough to find other ways to reach her.
I know enough about God's will to starve an ant, but the above reflection on my own imperfect fathering leads me to assert that God is not a bumbling uncle who watches me trip down the stairs and then says, "I saw that coming 'and allowed it to happen' becuase I decided you needed to learn a lesson about stairs." Rather, I think He is there with me, at the bottom, weeping and hurting with me, while He begins to work out His will for me, now that I have a broken leg. (He "taught" me all about stairs back when I was a very young child and experienced gravity for the first time. The brain He designed learns from those early mistakes and is supposed to remind me to be careful.)
2) Consider the following:
- "Josef F., 73, admitted that he locked his daughter, who was 18 at the time, in the cellar, that he repeatedly had sex with her, and that he is the father of her seven children." He kept her a total prisoner for 24 years. She never saw the light of day.
This was discovered 6 months ago and the guy is soon to be sentenced. Of course the girl and her seven children are all in a mental institution. If THAT was the 'will of God for her life, and the lives of her seven children;" if THAT was God's plan for them...well, just imagine what that would mean about God.
What does it mean about God if the plane crash victim whose life was saved and says, "I guess it was just God's will that I live."? Does that mean it was God's will that the rest died? I humbly suggest "no." God's will for all of us is that we "have life and have it abundantly." Anything which limits or hinders abundant life is outside of God's will. Human error or Evil which entered the world to create chaos, disease, and death is the culprit I choose to blame.
What gives me hope is that God is all powerful and able to use "All things for the good of those who seek and fear him." He has a perfect plan and is not ultimately thwarted by evil. I remember playing with ant beds in my youth and thowing obstacles in the ants way just to see what they did. Over and over, their initial will was challenged but they would always find a work around.So what do I say to people when they are the recipients of one of these "obstacles?" The first thing is "I'm sorry you have to endure this." The last thing I would say (and if I got to it on the list I would cross it off and not say it) would be "God's will is hard and mysterious." To me, at this time in my spiritual growth, that's just ignorant and mean.
I know God has a plan, and I know He is bigger than any tragedy which should randomly fall on me or my family. I know He has a plan for my daughter, and I know that He will continue to work it out. And in the end, wherever she is on the journey, He will bring her home to Himself.
Sorry to any and all who disagree. I'm not a good baptist. But do want to be a good Christian. I do want to be in His plan and I don't want to have to figure out the "magic" formula to keep from getting a spiritual kick in the gut. I've never come across that passage in the bible. (Ok, ok. Someone is eventually going to read this and think about the verse which says "The Lord Chastens those He loves." and "God will not allow you to face more than you can bear." Let me work on those further and elaborate later.)