In the face of recent flooding in the South and natural disasters worldwide, I offer this excerpt from my book …
After Katrina I heard this comment from a Lakeview resident who had lost everything,
It wasn’t personal. I just have to deal with it.
What she was commenting on was the fact that God didn’t chose to hurt her by destroying her house. It just happened. For many of us that seems insufficient as an answer. Weren’t we always told that God was in charge? And isn’t what happened all part of God’s plan? Doesn’t that make it intensely personal? And surely if she had been faithful to God and obeyed the church rules, God would have answered her prayers and kept her and her house safe, right? Apparently not! God doesn’t look at prayer that way, it seems.
I am reminded of that joke about the man who wouldn’t leave his house during a flood because he believed God would save him. As the water rose in the street, a neighbor offered him a ride out in his truck.
No. God is going to save me, Was his response.
As the water entered his house his cousin came by in a boat and was met with the same refusal. Finally, as the water lapped at his roof, a Red Cross helicopter flew overhead and offered to pull him to safety. Again he refused. And soon he drowned. When he arrived at the Pearly Gates he was really ticked off and demanded an audience with the Almighty.
You promised to save me! He challenged.
God raised his hands in frustration and replied,
But I sent you a truck, a boat, and a helicopter!
I have always sympathized with the man in this joke. He exhibits the kind of naïve faith in prayer that my mother raised me on. Pray for a miracle and God will send back the floods. But I have discovered that prayer doesn’t work like that. I have had to let go of my childish understanding of God and my unrealistic expectations for prayer. This too is a form of loss. I have come to accept that I cannot control what happens to me, however much I pray, I can only control how I react to what happens. I cannot control other people’s behavior, or protect my sons from heartache and disappointment. I cannot control the weather, I cannot control who gets sick and dies, and I cannot control God.