“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
“Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.”
The batch of trouble William Shakespeare’s three witches mixed up for Macbeth was nothing compared to the cauldron of weather that brewed the May sky into a frenzy over Oklahoma this year. Poisoned entrails, indeed. That a mass of air and water can organize itself into an electrically charged monster whose innards twist into weapons of mass destruction is at once fascinating, awe-inspiring, and scary as all get-out. We might admire such marvels – no doubt meteorologists do – if they weren’t so swift to tear us apart.
A colleague whose son is doing his residency in an Oklahoma City clinic told me last week that more than half his patients are children still traumatized by the monster that destroyed their homes, killed their friends, and generally made a mess of everything and everyone. Little children who absent the grace of God will be permanently damaged. The destruction of property, bad as it is, really pales compared to that.
Unfortunately, if you want your insurance company to rebuild your house, you’ll have to concede, at least ostensibly, that this was an act of God. That’s probably what’s written in your policy. Where did that idea come from? The “Good News” we Christians have believed, preached, taught, and commiserated for many years: “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord (in spite of it).”
No wonder an adult preacher’s kid I know warned me, “Don’t get too close to God. He’ll just want more and more.” Most of our post-churched brothers and sisters agree: Trying to get along with the Lord is something you’re better off having in your rear view mirror.
Now that’s twisted.
Most believers agree: God is good. All the time. But doesn’t that mean really good? Really? Not some warped kind of good that’s pain-filled all the time? Jesus told us He was the image of the Father, the express image. Jesus was good to the people He met, including those who followed Him closely. Yet an image of God Almighty more akin to capricious Zeus persists in our collective imagination. Maybe it’s high time we as a body cast off that idea. Seems to me it exalts itself against our knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Jesus always left lives better than He found them. Every single time. Unlike those damnable tornadoes.
Will we have trouble because we live in this cursed world? Certainly. Will we have trouble because we are Christians? You bet. Though we strive to live peaceable lives (Romans 12:18 and Hebrews 12:14), sometimes trouble still finds us. Are our troubles our own fault? Well, sometimes we make life harder than it has to be. But trouble like a tornado? No. No way. The disciples were already mixing up the truth when they asked Jesus if a man was born blind because of his sin or his parents’ sin (John 9:2). Jesus must have thought, ‘Really? After all you’ve seen and heard you ask Me this?’ He healed the man right then and there, just as He answered the need of every single person who came to Him.
He is willing – dare I say hoping? – to heal every one of those hurting little Oklahoma tykes, so that in spite of the terrible, random cursedness of this old world, His glory can be revealed.
Now that, my friend, is Good News, straight and true. Let’s pray in faith for those kids, shall we?
© Melissa Kay Simonds