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From The Chaplain's Desk
July 2015 Chaplain's Corner: Have faith in God

By Charles Dimmick, CT State Grange Chaplain

  JULY 10, 2015 --

As Grangers we are told to have faith in God. But having faith can be a rather tricky business. After all, we cannot see God, and except in rather rare instances we cannot hear God. And when disasters strike some of us ask “Why didn’t God step in and prevent this from happening?” In fact, several people have written books to examine exactly that question. One is called “Why do bad things happen to good people?” and one is called “When bad things happen to good people”. I recommend both of them for their discussion of this question. The question is ancient, and is the background for the Old Testament Book of Job. Job, you may remember, was a happy and prosperous resident of the land of Uz, somewhere in the Middle East, and a faithful worshiper of God, when a series of disasters wiped out his flocks and his family and eventually caused him to be covered with boils. His “friends” came to visit him and supposedly “comfort” him, but mostly they kept trying to convince him that his troubles were caused by his sinning against God and that he needed to repent. He rejected their persistent advice and insisted that he had done nothing wrong to provoke God’s wrath. His wife told him that he should reject God and die. He ignored that advice also. Job kept faith with God, although he complained bitterly to God about his troubles and kept asking God why all this had happened to him, what justification was there behind his troubles. God himself eventually shows up, rebukes Job’s “comforters” for their misguided advice, and restores Job’s former fortunes.

Several things are of note in this: the prologue to the Book of Job shows that God did not inflict these disasters on Job, but rather He allowed Satan to inflict them. Secondly, God never answers Job’s question as to “why me?” but implies that the answer to that question is beyond human understanding. The poet Robert Frost wrote a play called “The Masque of Reason”, set in Paradise, where Job again gets a chance to ask that question directly of God, and again does not receive a direct answer, but instead is told “There is no connection Man can reason out between his just desserts and what he gets.”

I wrestled deeply with these questions when my wife died 4 ½ years ago. My final resolution was that God does not directly cause any human suffering, but that He does allow bad things to happen, and expects us to be the ones working to prevent suffering and disasters. The message is that we should not depend on God to prevent those things which we are capable of making preparation for ourselves. And our prayers to God should be to give us the guidance, wisdom, and enlightenment that allows us to see the way to do so.


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