Summary: Where is God in the middle of tragedy? This sermon was delivered shortly after the Indonesian Tsunami.
The Mystery of God
1 Cor 13:10-12
11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
Sometimes when you have teens at home, you hear conversations that sound something like this:
“Who left the milk out?”
“When are you going to take out the garbage?”
“Who left the seat up?”
Wouldn’t you like to have a nickel for every time your teen said, “I dunno”?
The past two weeks we’ve been talking about some of the terrible disasters that have taken place in the world. Some people have even been on TV saying that these are all signs that the end is near. Just as we looked at Job this morning, people want to figure out why certain things happen and why did God allow it to happen. Human curiosity often keeps us from just accepting things as is, we must know why!
How do we explain God when things go wrong?
See people come up to us preacher guys, thinking we have all the spiritual answers. You might be here this evening and you’re thinking, “How could God let over 150,000 innocent people die in such a horrible way?” My answer – I dunno.
How can God let half a hillside fall away and bury innocent people below three stories of mud and debris? I dunno.
How can God let our sons and daughters die in the effort for peace half way across the world? I dunno.
How can God let innocent children die of cancer, or car accidents, or abuse? I dunno.
Where was God when all this happened? I know the answer to that one – He was there.
Why doesn’t God just make everything perfect? Why can’t all the times be good? Why can’t every prayer be answered the way we like it?
Because God has a design and a purpose for us. That purpose is that our lives glorify Him. You might be asking yourself, how can such tragedy glorify God – I dunno. In the movie Bruce Almighty, Jim Carrey is given the opportunity to play God for awhile. He finds out that God gets everyone’s prayers like an e-mail over some kind of heavenly computer. One example of the difficulty of answering everyone’s prayer was when Bruce answered thousands of prayers about winning the lottery. So many people won the lottery that the shared winning amount was something like a buck and a half. There’s some truth to that I’m sure. If we all got what we asked for, the world would run amok.
There is much about God that is a mystery. If God was completely understood, He wouldn’t be much of a God would He? In fact, that is one of the great assurances we have – God is God! That means we can trust God! We can trust Him in the middle of a natural disaster. We can trust Him in the middle of illness. We can trust Him in the midst of war. We can trust Him to be God. We can trust God in the Questions and the Answers. We can trust Him in the Good and the Bad, in the Light and the Dark, when we’re Winning and when we’re losing.
When the reality gives us more questions than answers we can still trust that He is God. Job knew this. Ultimately that was the conclusion he came to. Good or bad, God is God.
There was a little boy that sat at his grandmother’s feet while she was doing some needlepoint. Stitch by stitch, grandma pushed the needle down through the cloth and back up again. The little boy sat there and looked up in amazement trying to figure out what grandma was doing. “What is it grandma?” he said.
“You’ll see soon enough.” Grandma replied.
“But I wanna see what it is now!” the little boy persisted.
“It’s not done yet.” Grandma said.
“It looks like a mess from where I’m sittin’.” The boy said in a huff.
Grandma just kept stitching.
“That’s an ugly picture, grandma! It’s just a bunch of dark threads and messy knots. Nobody would want that hanging in their house!”
Eventually grandma finished her stitching. She looked down at her grandson and said, “When something beautiful is being made, sometimes the work doesn’t look very pretty. There are dark threads and light colored threads, but each one has a place in the overall picture. When you look at it from your side, it may not look very pretty, but when you get to look at it from the other side you see how it was crafted into something beautiful.” With that grandma turned the needlepoint over for her grandson to see the finished product.