I just watched some crazy video last night of the Tsunami’s devastation in Japan as cars were moved to and fro like driftwood. The power of water, something which seems so, well, not hard (I know that sounds very scientific) never fails to bedazzle me. How destructive it can be. And then I’m also amazed at some of the survival stories, such as this one, where a man is seen sitting on a piece of roof, having floated 9-10 miles out to sea before being rescued. Unfortunately his wife didn’t make it.
There is time for theodicy (defending the existence of God amidst such evil), but obviously not now. The time is to mourn and pray and trust that the waters of the ocean will have washed away any spiritual apathy toward the gospel in Japan and everywhere.
Yet I have found one very helpful theological truth when wading through the mess of such natural disasters and “man-made” disasters like 911. While I hold firmly to the fact that God ordains all that comes to pass, that doesn’t mean that He sits unmoved by all things. For instance, at one point He was “grieved” that He had made man, and Saul king (Gen 6:6; I Sam 15:11).
It doesn’t mean that he regretted it. I think it shows that God can ordain things which grieve Him. Scripture doesn’t say that God grieved while Jesus was on the cross, but does it really need to? God clearly ordained that Jesus bear the cross for our sins, but do you think His experience was the same as when Jesus was baptized and He said, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased? (Matt 3:17)”
In addition, our own experience reminds us that we too can “ordain” things which grieve us. For instance, the way a Father chooses to discipline His son. That grieves me, but I still planned for it happen and didn’t regret it.
We cannot fully comprehend the extent of God’s emotional frame as He exists both in and outside time as we know it. We can only know such emotions/thoughts are perfect, the way Jesus’ were perfect: he was righteously angry, and righteously joyful.
In the end, we don’t have a weak God, but a powerful one who still grieves with the broken.
We have a God who can grieve, even in the midst of what He has ordained. And that’s unique. And that’s helpful too.