In memory of Sandy Hook ElementaryIn the wake of the horror and grief in Newtown, CT, last week, many of us (including me) ask where God is. Even those with a strong relationship with Him wonder why He allows such tragedy.

In the words of Habakkuk, an Old Testament prophet, “Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.” (Hab. 1:3)

First, I think it’s a good sign to wonder. It means we’re still capable of caring, that we retain some vestige of God’s image and character in us. The day that something like this doesn’t upset our collective human spirit and bring cries of protest (think Job or David) would be an alarming day indeed.

Second, no one has all the answers, least of all me. However, I believe the answer has to do, oddly enough, with the fact that God’s love is far stronger than ours. We usually think of this as a good thing until tragedy strikes. Then we don’t like God’s love so much. It doesn’t make sense.

You see, our kind of love seeks to protect at any cost the objects of our love. Safety, rather than freedom or experience or understanding, tends to take precedence. And the priority is not just safety for the loved one, but to protect ourselves from pain and grief. This kind of love is a bit selfish and thus weaker than God’s.

I don’t say this critically. It’s just how it is with finite beings who don’t have full knowledge and control over the entire spectrum of life, death, and everything in between. We aren’t God; and part of not being God means being vulnerable to a certain amount of fear.

By contrast, God’s love isn’t selfish or weak. Our freedom and understanding, rather than physical safety or protection, takes precedence because from His vantage point, all is well in hand even when He doesn’t like what’s going on. His posture is more relaxed because He has full knowledge and control over the entire spectrum of life and death. (more…)