If it’s meant to be…

I was dating a very nice girl at the end of high school/beginning of college. We got along really well, but as most of those kinds of relationships go, once I left home and she started to think about college, it kind of faded away. It was a mutual decision (not that there weren’t some tears shed), but to be honest, her parents were far more upset about it than we were. We were growing up and moving on; our time together was over. Even her grandmother, who I never met, cried when she heard the news. Her mother’s comment was, “Well if it was meant to be, it was meant to be. If it wasn’t, it wasn’t.” This phrase made no sense to me then; it makes less sense to me now.

This is an early version of “everything happens for a reason”, a surrender to fatalism and all the problems that go with it. This kind of thinking is also impossible to argue with. We can conjecture that we know God’s will (which, curiously, is usually just like our own) – we can believe that God is in control and manipulating all the good and bad things we experience in life – we can say everything will be okay – but we don’t know. It has long been my opinion that God does not know the future – yes, you read that right – and we have a lot to say about what will happen next. That pesky free will again; that stick in the mud of theological ideas, reminding us that we are (mostly) responsible for our own outcomes. Which begs the question: is it possible to demand personal responsibility from people while also believing that God is in control of what happens to them? Now I’m making my own head hurt. Moving on…

I protest the simplistic concept that everything happens for God’s reasons because I don’t believe that there are always easy answers to life’s challenging questions. We can’t just fatalistically accept our lot, but we also can’t make everything go our way. If God is in control, God isn’t doing a very good job of it. For example, we are literally watching the world flood, even though God promised never to destroy the world by flood (Genesis 9). Which is it? Is God in control of the death of the climate, or are we? I don’t think we can have it both ways.

Blaming God doesn’t work for me. Sure, creation ebbs and flows; we know that there are ice ages and warm ages and that the earth is a living thing that changes, just like us. God made it that way – imperfectly beautiful – so in that sense, God is partly to blame. But so are we. We were made, Genesis 1 says, to care for the garden. We haven’t done that very well. Using the earth as a toilet wasn’t “meant to be.” We have a lot of explaining to do, don’t we? I would rather blame the source of this problem and find solutions. Maybe then something would get done. Sitting around waiting for God to do it won’t solve anything. It never does.

Prayer – You have given us the earth to care for, and we have messed up completely. Maybe, if we repent, we will help heal it. With Your help and guidance and grace, we can. Amen.

Today’s art is called “Healing Energy” by Rita Loyd.