Hands and feet (A Repost).

I squinted at the screen and punched away at my keyboard. School lunch menus. Somebody’s got to type ’em.

The police scanner on my editor’s desk crackled. I kept typing. Crispy chicken salad or tuna plate. Choice of veggie sticks, fresh seasonal fruit —

Vehicle overturned.

Vehicle overturned? I stopped typing and started listening to the scanner.

Two ejected. Block the road. Re-route traffic. Send the helicopter.

Of course. Something big always happens while I’m alone in the newsroom.

I interrupted an editor’s lunch with a head’s up phone call. I pulled up the Florida Highway Patrol Web site to find the intersection. The TV news reporter who shares our office called from the road.

“This is massive,” she said. “The worst single accident I’ve seen in my career.”

I made a second call to the editor. She called a photographer who called me for directions. A reporter met him at the scene.

The rest is history.

Another tragedy. Add it to the list.

The two Tampa police officers shot to death during a traffic stop.
The toddler killed in the care of his father.
The church destroyed in a fire.
The man who died when he drove his truck into a pond (the six kids and quadriplegic wife he left behind).
This fatal crash.

While we – humans – sort through them, we ask questions. It’s natural.

What happened?

How did it happen? How could it? Why?

There are other questions.

Why did God let this happen? Or, more usually, why did your God let it happen? How could a God be good who allows this?

My response is rough around the edges.

“You think this is His fault? You leave Him out of this!”

Shane Claiborne says it better in an old radio interview:

“And I can remember a comic in Philadelphia that was in the paper. There were these two guys that were asking that very question. It was — and one guy said, ‘You know, I wonder why God allows all this poverty and pain and hurting in the world?’ And his friend says, ‘Well, why don’t you ask God that?’ And the guy says, ‘Well, I guess I’m scared.’ And he says, ‘What are you scared of?’ He says, ‘I guess I’m scared that God will ask me the same question.'”

We ask why God allows sickness, but we won’t take care of ourselves.

We ask God why there’s poverty, but won’t make eye contact with the homeless guy who stands next to our cars at red lights.

We ask God why there’s murder, but we won’t love our neighbor.

Why?

In Shane Claiborne’s words…

God’s “going, ‘Hey, you’re my body. You are my hands and my feet.’ And, you know, that this is something that we are entrusted with. And I think, probably, one of the most difficult things that Jesus ever did was sort of leave this idea of transforming the world or the kingdom of God coming in the hands of such a ragtag bunch of people that goof it up over and over.”

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This post originally appeared on the blog on Aug. 14, 2010.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • I have such immense respect for Shane Claiborne. Great writing!

    • Thanks, Jess! And isn’t Shane fabulous? I’m a big fan of his work.

  • This is a great answer for those people (and there are many of us) who ask the “Why?” question as a way of shifting responsibility away from ourselves and on to God.

    But there is another level of the “Why?” question that encompasses the tragedy and suffering that we can’t “do anything about”–when thousands are killed by an earthquake or a tsunami, it’s hard to think that God’s going to say, “why didn’t you doing anything about that?”

    I mention this because it is on these points that a lot of people get stuck. “The Problem of Evil” ultimately has the proportions of a mystery. The Catechism tells us that the “answer” to the question of why God permits evil (and especially the moral evil of sin) is “Christian faith as a whole,” especially the way Christ conquers all evil by the transformation of His suffering and love (see ##309-314, 324). But this is something we will only “understand” in eternity.

    Of course, words such as these don’t “answer” people who are really struggling with the mystery of evil. They need to experience the embrace of the Love that overcomes evil. And we are called to be the instruments and the witnesses of that Love.

  • Love it. It really upsets me when we blame GOD for all the bad in the world. I mean, its people who kill people. And its human greed that causes poverty. Really, its all our fault. I guess we just have a hard time accepting the reason for all the evil in this world is because of us-so we blame it on Him.