As Americans mourn the loss of Grey's Anatomy's Dr. Dreamy, on the other side of the world people struggle to stay alive amidst the rubble from the 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Nepal that killed more than 4,000 people.
Real tragedy has a way of forcing us to face the one thing most of us prefer to ignore. If we are blessed enough to breathe, it's a given, one day we'll die. Where we're headed after that should be the greater concern. Too often we ask "Why do bad things happen to good people" but if we are brutally honest with ourselves, we'd admit the fallacy. No "good people" exist, only "bad people" loved so much by a God so good he volunteered to die on a cross for us.
So where was this good God when the earthquake shook Nepal? If you believe in his omnipresence, he was there. And if you believe in his sovereignty, he knew it would happen. And then you wonder why this all-powerful God didn't stop the destruction. A fair question, this once wandering rogue is unqualified to answer.
One thing I do know is that maybe we are asking the wrong questions and coming to the wrong conclusions because we fail to take into account the actual state of things. This day in 2015 is not much different than it was the day Adam challenged God and bit the apple. Separation from God is separation from God. We, the descendants of Adam, are fallen people living on a fallen planet. Even still, when the Earth trembles, we find it easier to shake our fists at God than accept that this is the natural order of things.
And many of us confuse the definition of "bad" when tragedy hits our lives. After my former husband was killed, I quickly came to understand how a loved one's absence has a unique way of sucking all the air out of your soul. And then it moves on to steal your hopes and dreams. For this one who refuses to take "no" for an answer, the inability to negotiate with the unseen God a better outcome than succumbing to widowhood was more than I could bear. My husband used to say, "God is good all the time" -- and then I watched him die and had to decide for myself if he really is.
I wish I could tell you my faith did not waver when everything I believed (incorrectly) about God was shaken to the core. Amidst it all and through the questions, God showed up. On the day he died two trash collectors stopped at the scene of our head-on collision with a semi-truck to pray for us in the torrential rain. And later on, he showed up by way of family and friends who came to my side to help and encourage me forward. In the same way, God showed up when the earthquake hit Nepal through volunteers and donations to organizations like Reverend Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse.
Truth is, tragedies like this should serve to remind us how precious this life really is and help us accept our own mortality. Accept it or not, death is a reality for each of us that can come in the blink of an eye or a shake from the earth, arriving when we least expect it and always too soon. Be encouraged, the brief time we spend here is not all there is to living. There is a hereafter, so it would be wise to figure out where you are headed, here after.
God understands our hurts…feels our pain…empathizes with us in our grief and listens to our cries – because He knows what it feels like see a loved one die. I believe he cries along with us, helping us inhale and exhale as we wait for history to complete the last pages of the story. Someday, we'll look back at this brief moment in time we call life…and exceptionally bad days like April 25 will make better sense.