I sat in the SERC Lisburn campus gazing out onto the street.
There was a man climbing scaffolding three stories high in a building opposite while people parked their cars on the street. Students walked past the window in groups of 2 or 3.
I had images in my head. The man on the third floor swept away, the cars swept away like corks in a river of mud. The windows of the canteen breaking, the waters engulfed everything.
Earlier that morning I saw a picture in a newspaper of a boat, a huge boat sitting at rest on top of a two story building. The image couldn’t help but remind me off the story of Noah when the ark comes to rest on Mt. Arafat.I kept thinking of the story of the rainbow and how it was a promise that God would never destroy the world again with floodwater. I was wondering if God was showing any rainbows over the coast of Japan that morning.
It also sparked memories of that kids song we used to sing at church.
‘The Lord said to Noah
‘There’s gonna be a floody, floody
Get those child out of the muddy…
So rise and shine and give God the glory ‘
It jarred with me. The image’s in the paper of Japanese towns flattened, completely flattened by mud. Reports of waves 33ft tall sweeping inland for miles on end and children lying dead in the mud. Rise and shine and give God the glory eh?
After reading those reports, seeing the pictures why would you want to ”rise and shine and give God the glory?’
There is one image in particular of a car that spots the tsunami approach and starts to panic. Then the wave sweeps over him. Just like that.
With thousands and thousands dead, half a million homeless, stricken nuclear power plants smouldering and deadly, aftershocks and now freezing weather and snow setting in the lady on the BBC News report has just said the words, or words to the effect of..
‘Nature seems in no mood to give these people a break’
Except if you come at things from what I’ve been told in church about God and Jesus since I was a child to now as an adult God is all powerful isn’t He? Many of the Psalms, the prophets or the end of Job all mention God’s mastery over everything. Sovereign isn’t He? And you don’t question his authority or goodness.
There sometimes is a feeling that the God of the Old Testament is a harsh, unforgiving autocrat but that all changed in the New Testament with Jesus. How could you argue about the goodness of Jesus, Jesus who didn’t say a word when mistreated and nailed to the cross for our sins.
But even the wind and waves obey Jesus don’t they?
So from a Christian point of view the lady on the BBC News report is completely wrong. It’s not ‘nature’ giving these people a bad deal, its somehow a sovereign God/Jesus/Holy Spirit who is in control and not giving these people a break.
But how does a God who is also meant to be perfectly loving work that one? How can you cause people suffering for no apparent reason?
This same Jesus who said ‘suffer the little children to come unto me’, the same one Christian’s waddle of on Sunday mornings to worship at church is the same Jesus who is God and sovereign, is somehow involved in the Japanese earthquake and the Haiti earthquake.
I don’t know what to make of it all. Faith. Death. God. Suffering. Love?