Four years ago, I wrote my first column as a spiritual response to Sept. 11.
Now, on its anniversary, we have little time to remember that tragedy as we face suffering on a human scale that seems to pale to 9-11.
Four years ago, I was fearful that my words would be inadequate. Today, I’m certain they’re inadequate.
So, please understand if I look toward advice given by the famed science-fiction author turned Christian apologist, C.S. Lewis. Lewis had quite a bit to say about tragedy and about why a loving God could allow such things to happen to his creation.
Lewis wrote a book about the subject and subsequently had an argument with his publishers. The argument was about the title of his book. Of course the publishers won the argument — simply titling the book, The Problem of Pain.
In his book, Lewis berates those who say God causes people pain. If I was to paraphrase his thoughts in modern terms, I would say that God is not up there running a heavenly version of the popular computer game “Sim City.” He’s not up there starting a fire over here, a robbery over there and then sending a storm to wipe the game board clean.
No, God made this world and put in place all of its physical laws. In that regard this storm was planned long before the Gulf Coast was ever conceived. Yet the same physical laws that caused the hurricane are the laws that send rain to water our crops in the Midwest and send wind to power generators on the West Coast.
But the most interesting thought in the book is conveyed in the title Lewis chose for the book — God’s Megaphone. The title came from his thought that while God didn’t cause or choose the pain, it can certainly put us in a listening mood.
So, during this time, as many of you will watch hours of news coverage, I challenge you to find time to be silent and listen to God’s voice. Hear God’s voice and know he is present among the antics, the crowds and the displaced people of the Mississippi Gulf.
Hear the voice of God as you hear the thousands that will respond to the cries for help by volunteering their time, money, supplies and even their own hands. Hear the voices all over the world, from Sri Lanka, to Japan and Mexico, as God speaks through their voice and becomes present to the victims. Hear God’s voice in our humble acceptance of this aid and know God hears us.
One thing I know for sure — we’ll never hear God’s voice in the climate of blame. We’ll never hear God’s voice among the stirring of revenge and hate. When we put our focus on these things, we will certainly drown in a sea of despair.
The message that I am hearing is a kind of a rewording of the famous Bible passage — John 3:16 — the one that says, “For God so loved the world that he sent his son. . . .”
The wording I hear for the Mississippi Gulf Coast is that God so loved you that he is sending the world to you.