The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


When we ask why

It’s time to recheck our image of God.

When devastating events occur, like flooding in the Midwest, many ask, “Why does God do this?”

Devastation happens and people accept that it is from God. We believe people can practice “random acts of kindness,” but God gets accused of random (or calculated) acts of cruelty. Time to recheck our image of God.

Elijah was angry at the people of Israel (1 Kings 19:1-21). They rejected God’s covenant; tore down altars; killed prophets; King Ahab and wife, Jezebel, worshiped Baal; and Jezebel wanted Elijah dead. Elijah runs to Mount Sinai. If there was a time for God’s destructive hand to appear, this might be it.

On the mountain Elijah waits for the Lord. There was a crushing wind, an earthquake and fire. But the Lord wasn’t in the wind, earthquake or fire. God was in the silence. Then God spoke, sending Elijah back to anoint a new king and a new prophet. God didn’t choose destruction. God worked through people, for people.

Jesus encountered some who believed bad things were inflicted upon people in relation to their sins (Luke 13:1-5). Jesus responds that those crushed by a falling tower were no more guilty than anyone else. God wasn’t in the falling tower.

At the death of Lazarus, Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:1-44). Others pointing to the death of Lazarus grumble that Jesus could have prevented it. But it’s Jesus’ word of life that calls Lazarus out of the tomb.

These stories witness to the living God who brings life, not death.

So could God be in the Midwestern floods? Well ... yes, God is the God of all creation. But, faithful people of God, why do you seek the God of life among the tombs of destruction and death?

When people helped strangers move belongings from their homes— when volunteers built floodwalls— when others traveled hundreds of miles to fill sandbags— when people donated food and water for volunteers— there was the life-giving power of God.

Where hope blooms out of despair, where something alive rises out of dark waters, like Lazarus from the tomb, there is God’s life-giving power.

As people who believe the Resurrection is God’s victory of life over death, we should quit looking at death as evidence of God’s power. The evidence for the power of God is when you see that which gives life.

Check out this week's articles:

Liturgical boot campLiturgical boot camp (right): Kentucky congregation hires expert to fine-tune worship leading.

A year after … : the 35W bridge collapse, Ron Engebretsen says, ‘God continues to be gracious to us.'

Hitting the water: I'm testing myself—and my faith.

Reforming the ELCA: CORE asks, 'Who's in charge of the church?'

Also: Iowa Lutherans hit by floods.

Also: Hanson visits Tanzania, Kenya.

Also: Theologian Reumann dies.

Discuss liturgical boot camp:

July 29 to Aug. 5: Join Bonnie Harstad and Wayne Schedler (right) of Faith Lutheran Church (Lexington, Ky.) to discuss the congregation's "liturgical boot camp" experience.

Join the discussion...

This week on our staff blog:

Kathleen Kastilahn blogs about "The Next Big Thing."

Sonia Solomonson (right) blogs about depression.

Andrea Pohlmann blogs about the phrases in orbituaries.

Check out our blog ...

The July/August issue of The Little Lutheran has arrived:

The Little Lutheran Don't let them miss another issue.

The Little Lutheran helps children 6 and younger learn about God's love for them and the world in which they live. It teaches them about Jesus, their friend and savior.
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