Having faith in God is easier when all is going well:
- when your children are enjoying life and making your life enjoyable as well;
- when you live alongside good neighbours,
- when your health is good, and that of those close to you,
- when your work is going well, and is fulfilling,
- when the biggest issue you face for the day is what to have for dinner!
But how do you access faith when life goes overwhelmingly wrong?
Remember that, as a human, your sight is limited. Unlike God, you don’t know the end from the beginning. That means that there are things that you’re not seeing, because you don’t have the big picture. If you are the type who says, I’ll believe it when I see it or, I need to see the big picture before you move forward in faith, then get comfortable. Because you are going to be sitting in whatever spot you currently find yourself in for a very long time.
“When Bad Things Happen to Good People” is a memoir reflecting on how Rabbi Harold Kushner’s relationship with God changed after his son, Aaron, was born with a rare and painful premature-aging disease called Progeria. Kushner says Aaron’s death at the young age of thirteen forced him to re-consider everything he’d been taught in rabbinical school. “I had to leave behind the idea that if you’re good, God rewards you. It took me years to come to understand that God does not send the problem, God sends us the grace to handle the problem.” This was a major departure from Kushner’s original orthodox training, now rejecting the idea that God was all-powerful and hands out problems to people as punishment or so they’ll learn from the experience.
Instead, Kushner embraces the concept that in order to preserve human free will, God created the world with a natural order of rules that must be obeyed, even by Him. This revelation gave Kushner an answer to some of his biggest and hardest spiritual questions.
“The answer I got, was for my wife and myself to find within ourselves the ability to accept and love a world in which bad things happen to good people. To let the goodness, and the love, and the kindness, and the humour, and the helpfulness, to let them dominate our perception of what we see when we look at the world. To not to let the rare misfortune define what the world will mean to us.”
"I no longer hold God responsible for illnesses, accidents, and natural disasters, because I realize that I gain little and I lose so much when I blame God for those things. I can worship a God who hates suffering but cannot eliminate it, more easily than I can worship a God who chooses to make children suffer and die, for whatever exalted reason."
God the stranger,
help us to welcome you
to our land, our community,
our home, our church.
God the anonymous,
help us to know you
in lives that touch ours
at a thousand points.
God the helpless one,
may we see you
when you are cradled
in a mother's arms.
God the seed, the newborn, the beginning,help us to find hope and purpose in you.
We thank you, Pioneering God, for the visionaries who see more clearly and work more boldly, because they have seen your purpose in love that is active,
in suffering that is overcome, and in a world that can be changed.
based on a prayer by Bernard Thorogood
We pray not, Lord, that our path may be smooth,
but that you would give us faith to tread it without fear,
your Light to show the way, so that we do not falter.