A month or so ago, people around here were worried about a drought. Now, not so much. We've gotten quite a bit of rain around here recently, which has put smiles on a lot of people's faces. Now, it's still May, and when it comes to moisture, nothing is assured around here. It could still dry up, as everyone knows. Still, people are not as scared of a drought now as they were a few weeks ago. Not only have we received some much-needed rain, but we also have been spared from any destructive storms.
Other people, however, are not so lucky. You've heard about the tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, but we don't have to go that far. There's been flooding in Harrisburg. There's been hail in various places. There have been fires caused by lightning strikes in Sioux Falls.
We wonder why that is. Why have we been blessed by rain, and nothing more, when other people have had such destructive weather? It's certainly not because we're better than anyone else. It's certainly not because we're somehow more deserving of blessings than anyone else. Why did it happen this way? And in asking this question, I'm not wanting to know about low-pressure systems and the jet stream and all that. I'm asking the larger question of why.
This question could be asked in a much larger context, of course. Some people seem to get all the breaks, and others seem to get none. Some people are born in a context in which they can have a relatively easy life, while others struggle all their lives just to get by. Why does it happen like that?
Some people would say there's no reason. It's just the way it is. That's not an answer that's very satisfying, though. That would lead us to believe that either there is no God at all or that God is totally and completely arbitrary. That's not what the Bible tells us about God. The Bible tells us that God is love and that God loves everyone. A God who loves everyone would not act in a completely arbitrary fashion like that.
Other people would say that everything happens for a reason, even if we don't know what the reason is. That's not an answer that's very satisfying, either. That would lead us to believe that God singles out certain people, giving some lots of good stuff and giving others nothing but misery. That's not what the Bible tells us about God, either. Again, a God who loves everyone would not single out certain people for miserable lives, especially when the misery is the result of things that are not in their control.
So where does that leave us? If, on the one hand, we say that there are reasons for things, but if, on the other hand, we say that not everything happens for a reason, how do we deal with questions like this?
Well, all I can tell you is how I deal with it. Frankly, I would classify myself in the category of those who have gotten an awful lot of breaks. I don't know why that is. It's certainly not because I've done anything to deserve them. Some of it may have been blessings from God. Some of it may have been random coincidence, which is another way of saying dumb luck.
For the most part, I don't know which is which. There are times in my life when I believe God played a part in how things turned out, but I don't have a reliable way for telling when it was God and when it was luck. I wish I did, but I don't. I also don't have a way of telling why I have received those blessings from God and others did not.
So, to be honest, the way I deal with it is to not think about it too much. I say that not as a way of being dismissive of the subject, but because I don't see how I'm ever going to get any answers. It's one of those situations where God knows the answers and humans don't, and God has decided it's best if things stay that way. It's not that I don't want to know more, but knowing more does not seem to be one of the possibilities.
So, instead of trying to figure out why, the question I think we need to ask is what. As in, what can we do about it? What can we do to help those who have not received the blessings and/or luck that we have? What can we do to show those people that God loves them, too? What can we do to show those people that we consider them our neighbors, and that we love them, as Jesus told us we should?
“Why” is a question we'll never be able to answer. “What”, however, has many answers. Let's start working to find them.