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My God, why have you forsaken me
By Robert T. Smith
At the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, this exclamation from Jesus dying on the cross echoes through the centuries. There is nothing new under the sun.
To Christians, the difficulties and sometimes tragedies of our lives here on earth are testament to our God’s desire to draw us into a relationship with him. Jesus did not come here on earth to have a good time, or to make bad people good, he came to make his people alive. To an unfortunate many in our country, this Texas mass murder is just another testament to Christian’s fairytale belief in a fictional character in the sky.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan called for prayers, and the Godless walked out and/or mocked this silly notion in many of the print and network news media. If there is a God, why did he allow this massacre to occur? If there is a God, why did he allow his Christians to be killed in his church while worshipping him? The Christian God either does not exist or does not care about us, nonexistent or a mean and vengeful entity in the minds of some.
This mass murder is used as evidence to some that all there is to our lives is what we can get here on earth. Without God and his promise of a life beyond our time here on earth, any hardships in life are relegated to be addressed in full by each of us trying to get as much as we can, or to man and his government, the secular humanism of our time. To some, even if God does exist, he is not good and does not care about us as evidenced by this Texas tragedy. The God-less assign God a Santa Claus-like quality, limited to our short, mortal lives. Why worship or believe in some entity if not receiving good stuff.
We can see that our human condition has not changed for a very long time, as indicated in a book written many thousands of years ago. The main character in this book has everything, riches, friends, family, well-to-do. He has a strong belief in a God that some believed was because he had been rewarded with his earthly riches and good times… it is easy to believe in a God who just gives you goodies and an easy life. Without the good times it is inferred in the story, the main character would not have such a strong belief and possibly no belief in his God.
In a catastrophic chain of events that befall the main character, all is lost, wealth, friends, family, and even his very health deteriorates to daily suffering. He is admonished by a friend that he must have done something very bad, or not have prayed hard enough to be punished by his God. To his friends, a God of wrath is extracting vengeance on him for not doing enough, even though the main character continues to believe in the goodness of his God, but questions why his God has subjected him to such suffering.
Worst of all, the main character’s wife admonishes him to curse his God and die…no strong belief warranted in his wife’s mind, perhaps this God does not even exist if so many bad things have happened. This story of a man named Job is one that speaks to having strong belief in God regardless of fortunate or unfortunate life conditions…God’s purpose in this thousands of years old story remains one for our times, God cares about our well-being, even when his means of achieving his goal are not clear to us.
Even the rock of Christianity, Jesus, was unjustly tortured and murdered, subjected similarly to the bad side of the human condition of suffering, and feelings of hopelessness and helplessness of Job. Even though he fully knew his role and purpose here on earth, yet being fully involved in the human condition, in the end even Jesus cried out with the exclamation of my God why have you forsaken me.
Jesus torture and execution is the clear example call to be followers of the way as we experience the difficulties and pain in our lives here on this earth, just as he did. In the end, the suffering and death of Jesus was for God’s good purpose, that as substitute debt payed for all of God’s deficient people. Jesus’ death would provide people a chance for an eternal life in the presence of their God.
Being drawn to seek God through prayer especially in the face of hardship is the natural inclination of his people. The answer for Christian’s as to the question of why bad things can happen to good people is told in both of these cases of Job and Jesus, and many other text of the Holy Bible. God’s desire in the end is for the good.
Some unbelievers mock Christian’s prayer to their God as useless, especially when bad things happen to them. They don’t believe in God and can’t see the long-term goal of a loving God…a forever relationship with his creation, his people. To Christian’s, it is the natural response to seek their creator, especially during tragic events like the Texas massacre.
God’s promise is not that there will be no trials and tribulations in our time here on earth, it is that he wants to have a forever relationship with us, and works in ways not always clear to us and sometimes painfully so, to make that promise come true. To Christian’s, the answer to the exclamation of my God why have you forsaken me is the good news…he has not.
Robert T. Smith is an environmental scientist who spends his days enjoying life and the pursuit of happiness with his family. He confesses to cling to his liberty, guns and religion, with antipathy toward the arrogant ruling elites throughout the country.