On television the other night George Zimmerman, the Sanford, Florida shooter of Trayvon Martin, was being interviewed. He declared that his actions were self defensive but apologized to the family, nonetheless. He then turned his gaze directly into the camera. “I believe that the will of God has been done,” he said.
I was stunned! This was wrong on so many levels! The Martin family has lost their beautiful son forever and the shooter dismisses this with the “Will of God” defense!
Does God want to take credit for Zimmerman’s violence?
It got me thinking… why do we work so hard to give tragic, unexplainable circumstances the God stamp of approval? Is it comforting in some way? If so, to whom?
The problem is that the victims of such occurrences are left with a terrible taste in their mouths for a God who at best allows evil and at worst has a willful purpose in evil, when they need the loving presence of god the most.
Just a few nights ago Aurora, Colorado suffered a tragedy unthinkable for any parent who sends their kids off to the movie theater. Twelve deaths and fifty-eight wounded unjustly at the hand of a very, very broken man. How will people think about this and what will be said?
A few days ago I read something in the Celtic Daily Prayer (pg. 695-96) that made a lot of sense to me.
“It will be all right in the end,” someone says. Will it? Maybe. But often that is not the case. “There is a purpose in all this,” says another. This implies that God intended this awful situation, that He approves of suffering. (Especially if, as sometimes happens, we bring the trouble on ourselves, it would be insulting to God to suggest that the wreckage was His idea in the first place.)
All that we deeply experience is significant (even if it was not what we or God intended to happen!)
What we can say truthfully in a bad and trying situation is this: ‘This is not without significance.’
But, especially in times of deep suffering, easy answers that come glibly off the tongue are insulting, hurtful and insensitive.
Some of the most painful times in my life have been worsened by those who tried to explain God’s reason for my tragedy. In my immaturity i have thoughtlessly done this to others myself. If one were to stop and think for a moment it wouldn’t have to be so. What would love dictate?
When comforting our suffering brothers and sisters can we ignore our own urges to make sense out of the situation long enough to acknowledge the significance of the event without further comment? Can we be witnesses to their pain and leave off theologizing and judging?
Isn’t that what love would look like?
Just some food for thought…