I believe that God works in all things, good things and bad things, to foster some good. I do not causes all things that happen, that everything that happens is an indication of God’s preferences. I do mean that God can use all things to accomplish good.
mean to suggest that God
That is one meaning of the wood redeem: to
reclaim. God reclaims God’s purpose in creation
when something happens that seems to be derailing God’s intent for creation.
Each day we watch films of people in Texas and Louisiana
who have had their lives turned upside down and lost most everything they have.
We do not yet realize the scope of this loss.
It is just beginning to sink in.
I don’t believe it is God’s good intention that people’s houses be
flooded, their pictures destroyed, and their neighbors drowned.
While dodging the question of theodicy (why does
the creation that was handed over to us to nurture us sometimes seem to declare
war on us?), I have noticed one encouraging thing.
Perhaps you have noticed that lately a lot of
people have been yelling at one another in our country. We seem to be divided these days in
identity/interest groups and believe our group’s survival depends upon
asserting our claims at the expense of others.
Yet in the aftermath of this hurricane, we have
seen story after story of people helping one another without regard to race,
religion, politics, gender, geography, or wealth. Some people speaking out of the midst of the
catastrophe have noted this.
I find this enormously encouraging. I am not naïve about the ongoing divisions in
our country; they existed before Hurricane Harvey and will persist after the
waters recede. But I am nonetheless
encouraged. In the face of devastating
loss, many have responded out of their sense of the common humanity of others.
During my pastorate in Philadelphia, many of the
theological issues dividing Christians at that time were not frequent topics among
our urban congregations. We had more
immediate concerns: affordable decent housing, police/citizen relations, drug
dealers on the corner, functioning public schools, poverty, removal of trash,
and, of course, the repairing of potholes.
Out of our common challenges, God brought us together into a resourceful
community of people who worked together for the common good.
Can God bring this type of thing out of this
tragic hurricane? Could God use this catastrophe to strengthen our national
character and guide us toward reconciliation leavened with justice and
Jesus once said:
For mortals this is impossible, but with God all things are possible
(Matt 19:16). May we seize upon the well
of goodwill that tragedy has spawned.
Jim Kelsey--Executive Minister of the American
Baptist Churches of New York State