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Rev. John Bressler - In good times and bad, God is always there for us
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John Bressler

I guess I am still rather primitive in my thinking as I always want to believe that I am exempt from the really bad stuff and God watches out just for me, my loved ones, my friends and close associates. This way, when something happens to outsiders, I don't feel their pain. 

At least, at first, I can't. Then, as the news unfolds, I find myself thinking about their loss and how much they must suffer, and I cannot help but hurt for them and wish I could be there and in some way give them hope, care and comfort.

Then, I get angry. Isn't there anyone who checks on the safety of the mines, bridges, roads, buildings, ships and planes? Aren't there appropriate background investigations for those in positions of trust? And no, I cannot accept some lame excuse, "We just have to understand the realities of business, travel, politics, human error and chance."

I am almost afraid to ask the obvious, "Why did God allow this to happen?" I'm not supposed to blame God. Sorry.

Perhaps God is disinterested, distant, disabled or doesn't care.

Maybe, just maybe, we could look at life as a flip of the coin, pure coincidence or heavenly humor. Take a quick look at biblical Job and think we're reading a Greek comedy. Job was not much more than a pawn between God and the adversary (Satan) to prove who was right. Yeah, Job got back twice what he lost, but does that replace his grief and suffering? Think about it. The book is not about how patient he was. I digress.

At birth, my parents did not have a set of instructions or conditions outlining the course of my life, a guarantee of good happenings or assurance that I would never experience sadness in any form or fashion. And at the right moment, I found God! Rather, God opened my eyes so I could see He had been there all the time.

At that moment -- the Greeks call it karios -- all of life was a part of me: pleasure, pain, suffering, relief, good, bad, faith and disbelief, not just for me, but for the world.

I was overwhelmed and had a hard time accepting the fact that God not only cared for me but for every person in this whole wide world unconditionally!

Ah, we can all believe that we can choose to live where there are floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, mud slides and even work at dangerous occupations or try to live in a cave and stay safe. Does this mean that we are to sit like a stoic and ignore pain and suffering? Of course not. We will become angry and search for answers in the grief and devastation. We will go on to the best of our ability, trusting in God for the final conclusion. That's all we can do.

Let's pray the prayer of Aaron, "May the Lord bless us and keep us; make His face to shine upon us and be gracious to us; the Lord lift up the light of His countenance upon us and give us peace, both now and forever more." And add, "and keep us from harm."

Let us fall asleep with, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world, not to condemn (or punish) the world but that the world might be saved through Him."

We can all live with that.

Thanks, God!

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