Friday, February 13, 2009

Understanding tragedy and God's will

A close friend of mine said she lost her faith when she overheard two believers in her family say that it was God's will when a plane carrying Vietnamese refugee children crashed and killed all these innocents.

Too often, we as believers don't think before we speak. And often, God has yet to more fully reveal himself to many of us, or we are not willing to listen -- using faith as crutch instead of a step toward greater enlightenment.

God does not bring tragedy, He does not give people leukemia nor is He involved in planes crashing, such as what happened to Flight 3407 outside of Buffalo.

God also did not will that one of the passengers be a heroic widow of 9/11, Beverly Eckert. Of course, she had already suffered so much in life.

The tragedy is not part of God. The choices we make afterward are. And the story of the brave widow of 9/11 is representative of a choice made in God, in establishing a memorial and scholarship to her late husband, speaking up for other 9/11 families, and even boarding the plane to celebrate his birthday.

Should she have lost her life after suffering so much? Of course not. No one on that plane deserved to die. Nor did the husband and father killed on the ground in his home.

In a world where free choice and accidents happen, tragedy is unavoidable. And these catastrophic events are made harder when someone like Beverly Eckert is lost.

Remember from the Gospels when the apostles spoke to Christ about a tower collapse in a nearby town that took many lives. Some people were saying it was God's judgment on the victims' sins. Christ would have none of that thinking, reminding his disciples that the rain falls on the good and the bad.

So God did not will the crash of Flight 3047, nor did He intend that Eckert and 49 others leave the world on a icy, foggy morning outside of Buffalo.

His will is present in everything afterward, in how we now react in providing consolation to those families that are hurting and in taking up Eckert's work in championing the families of 9/11. Surely, that is how she would want us to respond to her death.

And His will is present in the promise many of us believe in -- that loss on this Earth is replaced by joy in heaven.

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