| HE MADE THE STORM BE STILL
By: Jerry S. Maneker
|"For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea…. Then they cried to the Lord in
their trouble, and he brought them out from their distress; he made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were
hushed.” (Psalm 107:25, 28) “A windstorm swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in
danger. They went to him and woke him up, shouting, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And he woke up and rebuked
the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ They were
afraid and amazed, and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and
they obey him?’” (Luke 8:23b-25)
As of this writing, the Tsunami death toll is about 121,000 people! Families and villages have been destroyed, a six
month old baby was swept away from its mother’s arms and she also lost most of the rest of her family, lives have been
snuffed out by an act of nature that Scripture assures us is commanded and assuaged by God and God alone.
I don’t feel comfortable writing about this subject, because I don’t understand why such a thing could happen by a loving
God who is omnipotent and omniscient. I have wracked my brain trying to make some sense out of this tragedy,
seeking to reconcile it with the existence of a loving God, and I can’t do it. Everything I come up with either doesn’t
make any sense, or are rationalizations that seek to let God off the hook.
One priest-scholar I know feels that God can’t be blamed for this act of nature, as human beings have decimated the
environment, allowing such things as global warming to occur, and that we are reaping the consequences of our neglect
and rape of the environment. Maybe! But if God is truly loving and omnipotent, He presumably would not let such a
tragedy occur, any more than He would have allowed the Holocaust to occur, or the many other holocausts that occur
every day of our lives.
A loving God wouldn’t seem to allow such devastation, any more than He would allow holocausts, a father feeding his
one week old baby to a dog, a mother cutting off the arms of her baby, and the many acts of brutality that nature and
human beings visit upon so many people. How can we see God to be loving amidst such tragedies, such horrors, such
unspeakable and inexplicable threats, tragedies, and downright horrors that can be visited upon us at any time?
If God is really in control, and if He is really loving, how can He, the One who makes and stops the storms, the One who
tells us not to fear and assures us that, “The righteous shall be kept safe forever, but the children of the wicked shall be
cut off. The righteous shall inherit the land, and live in it forever” (Psalm 37:28B-29), allow a Tsunami to happen and
not stop it until so many lives are lost and so much grief is left to bear for the rest of people’s lives?
Of course, I don’t know the answer to these questions, any more than does anyone else! As my wife put it when I talked
with her about how a loving God could allow such tragedy, “God justifies us! We don’t justify God!”
I suppose that’s true, but I feel the need to write about this topic because of two types of voices that are likely to be
raised in response to this horror. The one voice is by atheists and agnostics who can, in all good conscience, say, “You
say you have a loving God? Look at all that devastation and then tell me with a straight face that there is a God and
that He is loving. You have to be living in a dream world to believe that, after seeing this tragedy and so much tragedy
and evil that has occurred in this world.”
The other voice, the more dangerous voice, the voice of the strident fundamentalists, many of whom are very limited
human beings, can say, “God is punishing us for our increasing secular ways of life, for allowing abortions, for
advocating for same-sex marriage, for not punishing homosexuals who are helping to destroy society, for ignoring
God.” I’m writing this article, not to contend with these two points of view as much as to assert the fact that mere human
“rationality,” our views of “tragedy,” are not adequate to fathom the existence of destruction and evil in this world.
God, this world, and we ourselves are mysteries! We don’t know why we were born, we don’t understand so many parts
of ourselves, we don’t understand life, we don’t understand why so much of life entails suffering and struggle, we don’t
understand the evil that exists in the human heart (Jeremiah 17:9), we don’t understand why we decay as we age, we
don’t understand why we die, and we don’t know what happens to us after we die.
In other words, we don’t really understand anything that is of any real importance, and we really can’t control most
things in our lives that happen to us. Sure, we make decisions, but those decisions hardly explain the many mysteries
of life, or explain the death, devastation, and grief attendant upon a Tsunami, or upon any other source of seemingly
wanton death and destruction, that fall on the just and the unjust alike. (Matthew 5:45)
Given what we see, I can’t adequately answer one who questions the existence of a loving God who has our best
interests at heart. All I can say, and I know to one who hasn’t encountered God in his or her life it sounds rather
pathetic, if not downright pitiable, that God, Jesus, revealed Himself to me, as He has to many others throughout the
millennia (not all of whom were and are gullible or stupid), and has been with me every single step of the way
throughout my whole life. I can’t and will not ever deny that truth!
I guess it all comes down to this resolution: despite any and all seen circumstances, all men and women of faith are
called upon to echo Job’s words, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him….” (Job 13:15 KJV)