I was watching the news a short while ago, and they were discussing the recent deadly tornadoes down in Joplin. They were reporting on supposed happy endings that have come out of the tragedy, and something in particular caught my attention.
They followed up with a man they first met last week. He is getting married today. Last week after the tornado, he and his fiance were out and about trying to find friends and family. They were lucky enough to not have any of their loved ones killed. Some of the survivors had put out signs saying "God Saved Us" and "God Bless Joplin." This really disturbed me. I can understand being glad that your own loved ones are alive and well, but what about all those who died? "God" did not bless Joplin, because in the next clip there was a woman talking about how she spent four hours in the morgue just helping to identify the dead. So what does that mean? God blessed only a select few Joplin citizens, or he chose a select few to kill? The guy's fiance said something to the effect of there's nothing like a near death experience to strengthen your love for someone. So they're getting married today and moving on with their happy ending, while many of their neighbors are holding funerals.
I'm not saying that people shouldn't be allowed to enjoy their happiness just because others are suffering. There will always be suffering in the world. But I can't stand it when people claim that God is the source of that happiness, instead of seeing the reality that random things happen in life. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. Sometimes it happens to you and sometimes it happens to others. It has nothing to do with being "blessed." But according to these folks, the reason they're happily walking down the aisle today is because God was merciful enough to spare their lives. Religious people love this kind of ridiculous rationalization of random events. If something good happens, then it's "Praise Jesus! Ain't God good!" If something bad happens, then it's "The work of the devil!" "Get behind me Satan!" What an oversimplified, convenient, and infantile view of the world. Completely devoid of any intellectual curiosity and independent thought.
I've had this kind of thing happen in my own life. A few years ago, I went through a very difficult personal situation. I'm not too proud to say that it was an emotional pain that brought me to my knees. I tried to discuss it with my mother, and instead of her really listening to me she just spouted her typical "give it to God" type of advice. "God loves you. This ain't nothing but the devil." Huh? Ma, you do realize that makes no sense, right? I remember being told as a child that I wasn't supposed to question God (even as a young child I knew there were some shenanigans going on, but I wasn't able to completely grasp it nor articulate what I felt at that age). As an adult, I told my mother that I never agreed with her about not questioning God. Back when I still kinda/sorta believed (or at least wanted to believe), I was questioning him all the time. I told her that I constantly questioned God. Her response -- "Well, you can question him, but that doesn't mean he's going to answer you." Sadly, she didn't even see that her own statement was an argument for NOT believing instead of believing.
As much as I love my mother, she is firmly in the "God saved us" camp. After all, many people survived the tornado. Many people are still walking around and breathing today. So it's ok that one family gets to celebrate at a wedding while another mourns at a funeral. It's not only ok, but we should rejoice about it and be grateful, because God made it so. It's not our place to question why.