Acts of God or Accident?
“Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?”
As we acknowledge the fifteenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 “Twin Towers” attacks in New York City, I thought it might be appropriate to revisit this critical question so often asked when trying to ‘justify,’ make sense of, or understand the untimely loss of a loved one.
There is a lesson for each of us in the terrorism of our world. It is not however a lesson in conflict. It is not a lesson in economics. It is not a lesson in politics or religion. It is a lesson in none of these.
God’s activity or inactivity in our lives is of His choosing and His timetable. Suffice it to say, all events we experience up close and personal or from afar can be tests of our faith and beliefs. Events and consequences of the choices we make or experience can come in three forms:
1) According to God’s plan for our lives.
2) By accident.
3) By actions perpetrated by forces of the world, or forces of evil in our world.
This answer may or may not be an adequate explanation around the water cooler or in the classroom, but what about for everyday real life? “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Christian believers say that they trust in the words of Jesus Christ. So, let’s look at what He has to say. Jesus explains for His listeners, “No one is good, no not one, except God alone.”
Jesus is telling us something very important about people who perish throughout the world under all kinds of different circumstances regardless of the particular day or event. He is also telling us something very important about ourselves. Not one of the people who has perished in the turmoil and tragedies of our day, whether in New York City, Iraq, Timbuktu or elsewhere are good, “No, not one.” Each of them had complex lives, just like you and I. We know nothing of their individual situations or how they acted or behaved in their lives behind closed doors. What we do know is that those lives cut short by events unforeseen can serve as a reminder to be heeded.
The only one who knows when your last day and hour will be is God. When He is ready for you, will you be ready? Were the people who perished on Sept. 11, 2001 ready? Were any of them ready? We have no way of knowing. The single blessing for those who might have realized their deaths were imminent was they had an opportunity to make their peace with their God.
This is a lesson for us as survivors. It is not one of economics, religion, politics or terror. It is a lesson of personal choice and personal action. It is a lesson which is twofold: First, “None of us is good, No, not one.” And second, only God Himself knows the last day and hour. The world’s and each of ours. When He is ready, will you be? Make your peace with God and you’ll be blessed here and hereafter.
A Child Knows
“The Truth of Innocence”
The enjoyment of each autumn season for Dave was found in the weekly broadcast of ‘Monday Night Football.’ Just as he had lived for Friday during his bachelor days, now as a married man with a young daughter, his seventh day solace was found in front of his big screen plasma television watching the NFL’s premier ‘Game of the Week.’ It was this Monday evening which he had anticipated all month, for his favorite gridiron gladiators, the Green Bay Packers were squaring off to face the team Dave loved to hate most, the Dallas Cowboys.
Completing his own pre-game preparation of all necessary snack and beverage needs, Dave settled into his favorite chair and hit the remote control button. Leaping to life across the high definition screen a camera panned the scantily clad figures of silicone implanted bodies and cosmetically painted faces of the famous Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders. “Ah” Dave thought to himself, “Now this is what Monday night is all about! Hard bodies, on and off the field.”
As Dave’s coy smile began to stretch from ear to ear, into the living room of their small house walked his wife and daughter. Carol planted her little girl down beside Dave and exclaimed, “Honey, I need to go to the grocery store and I’m leaving Cassie home with you.”
“Oh No,” groaned Dave. “Green Bay is playing Dallas and I don’t want to be interrupted.”
“Well, you know how difficult it is for me to get through the store with Cassie wanting to grab every toy and candy bar in sight. I don’t want to be gone any longer than necessary and I can complete my list faster if she stays here with you” Carol stated.
“But Carol” retorted Dave, “You know how long I have waited for this game and Cassie will do nothing except bother me constantly. Just take her with you.”
“No Dave,” Carol calmly replied, “She is staying here with you. Just give her something to do that will keep her busy and you can watch your precious game . . . and cheerleaders” Carol added softly as she turned toward the door.
“Carol” Dave said raising his voice an octave but by that time his wife of ten years was out the door and gone. “Great” thought Dave, “the most important game of the season and I’m babysitting.”
At that moment six year old Cassie came to Dave and asked, “Daddy, will you read me a story?”
“Not now Cassie, the game is about to start.”
“But Daddy” the little girl said, “I want you to read me a story.”
“Not right now Cassie” Dave replied adamantly. “Find something else to do.”
“I want to hear a story,” his daughter insisted once again.
“Look” replied Dave, getting irritated. “Go get one of your toys or a doll to play with.”
“Mommy said that you would read me a story from my new book if I would stay home with you.”
“What is this?” Dave thought, “A female conspiracy?”
“All I ask is that once a week I get to watch a little football and have some peace and quiet” Dave muttered.
“Daddy,” Cassie said breaking into his thoughts. “I want to hear a story.”
“Look here Cassie” Dave said. “Go get one of your toys and play with it.”
“I’ll read you a story in a few minutes, okay?”
“Okay!” replied Cassie.
“Now” Dave said to himself, “time for some football” as the kicker on the screen launched the pigskin into the end zone. Three plays into the game Cassie was standing in front of Dave once again. “Daddy, will you read me a story now?”
“Cassie,” Dave said, his tone rising in exasperation. “The game is just getting under way. Go!”
“But Daddy, you promised.”
Dave glared at his daughter.
“Cassie, go find your new doll and play with her” Dave said emphatically.
“I will read to you in a little while.”
Looking down dejectedly Cassie walked away.
Within a few minutes Dave noticed that Cassie was on the floor in the corner twisting the arms of her new Barbie doll up and down as if the two girls were waving at each other in animated conversation. “Finally” Dave thought. “Now if she’ll just stay busy until Carol comes home or until half time, everyone will be happy.”
Early into the start of the second period, Cassie appeared in front of Dave once again.
“Ok Daddy, I’m ready for my story now.”
“In a few minutes” Dave told her.
“Daddy, you promised,” she said.
“Yes Cassie I know, but the game is just getting interesting.”
“Green Bay is about to score” he said as if that made a difference or mattered at all to his little girl.
“I want to hear a story,” Cassie exclaimed.
“Good Lord” thought Dave, “the apple sure doesn’t fall far from the tree when it comes to women in this household wanting to get their way.”
“And to think, if I was still single I could be down at Burt’s pub with the guys, really having fun.”
“Daddy,” said Cassie, interrupting Dave’s conversation with himself.
“You said you would read to me.”
“Yes Cassie, I said it and I meant it. I’ll read to you when I am ready.”
“Here” he said, glancing at the open travel magazine on the coffee table, which Carol apparently must have been reading earlier. There before his eyes, was a map of the world with all the continents pictured. He reached down grabbing the magazine and tore the page out of the book.
“I’ll make a deal with you Cassie,” Dave told her.
“You take these pieces of paper,” as he slowly ripped apart the global image, “and put them back together again in the right order, and I will read you your story.”
He handed the now torn puzzle pieces to his daughter thinking, “This will keep her busy the rest of the evening until Carol gets home or she falls asleep.”
Taking the scraps of paper from him, Cassie asked, “You promise me Daddy, when I put the puzzle together, you’ll read to me?”
“I promise” Dave said, crossing his heart in a solemn gesture that he knew to his daughter meant that his word was now beyond reproach.
“Okay” she shouted aloud with a smile on her face and off to the corner of the room she went with the pieces of paper and the magazine, which he had given to her to use as a small stable base.
“Come on Pack, break the backs of those stinking Cowboys” Dave muttered to himself, seeing Cassie out of the corner of his eye as she busily worked with the paper puzzle. He was soon lost in the action of the game unfolding before him. It was as if he were in the stadium stands watching the players pummel each other. Suddenly he noticed movement to his right and there stood his daughter, magazine in hand.
“Ok, Daddy, I’m done” she said smiling up at him. Holding the magazine in front of her between the two of them the paper world was reassembled once more. Staring at the picture Dave was mesmerized. There it was, just as it had been when he first saw the map on the coffee table; every continent in its proper place. “Wow,” thought Dave, “but how did she figure it out?”
“Cassie” Dave asked, “How did you fit the puzzle pieces back together again? How did you know where to put each of the pieces?”
“It was easy Daddy” she replied.
“On the other side of the page was a picture of a man. I just put the man back together again. And when the man was right, the world was right.”
In the Hawaiian language, "Mana'o" (ma na o) is the word used to describe 'thoughts, ideas, and opinions'.
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