Tom and Mark
have been discussing the way in which their own reactions to the tsunami seemed to be out of step with those of other Christians about the place,- and, without wanting to simply agree with whoever I've spoken to last, I think I'm coming round to their point of view. I guess early on I felt the need to come up with a coherent intellectual explanation, which squared the circle of God's omnipotence and his omnibenevolence, in case anyone asked me,- and my failure to do this felt rather huge and uncomfortable...but when it comes down to it, very little of my faith is expressible in coherent intellectual terms and it's not usually an enormous problem.
Maggi had already pointed me in the direction of the age-old voice of lamentation, which makes it clear that though monstrous things do happen, and we are right to rage against them, God is still God, and the truths we've experienced remain true.
I'd agree that there's plenty of evidence of God around in the aftermath of awful events, and this speaks to me of Resurrection hope, of transformation and restoration. With regard to the appalling here and how, though, co-incidentally, my training vicar gave me a copy of the Praxis book Using CW Funerals, and I found, flicking through it over lunch, some words of John Robinson's, from his final sermon "Learning from Cancer", written 22 years ago. They seemed at least as relevant and helpful to me now as they did when I first heard them in Trinity Chapel
"God is in the cancer as much as in the sunset...."
"Christians above all are those who should be able to bear reality and show others how to bear it."
So...the reality is that unbearably messy things happen...and we are called to hold them in tension with our belief that God is love and cares beyond all our imagingings. That feels more manageable, somehow, because it builds on a real experience. Rock bottom, I've found, is often the best place to meet him.