I don't know about you, but I spend a lot of time thinking about God's will. Sometimes it consumes me.
The other day, when I heard Harold Kushner, author of a dozen or so books, being interviewed on National Public Radio, I turned up the volume. The topic was God's will.
Rabbi Kushner, who wrote "When Bad Things Happen to Good People," lost a teenage son to illness some years ago.
He believes God made a decision a long time ago not to interfere with acts of nature, like the death of his son, or acts of evil, like 9-11. According to Kushner, even though God doesn't interfere, He promises to be with us no matter what happens.
I was raised to believe that God is everywhere, God does intervene and miracles do happen. My theological upbringing had a clearly suffering servant slant to it. The notion of the harder the times, the greater the heavenly rewards was embraced.
A few years ago during my training as a hospital chaplain, I became a student of discerning God's will through the book "The Will of God" by Pastor Leslie D. Weatherhead.
Weatherhead's perspective tends to align with Kushner. In short, he believes "not everything that happens is God's will, but that nothing can defeat God's will." In other words, when bad things happen, God will work around, through and over whatever comes our way in order to accomplish his ultimate will.
I want to believe in a benevolent God, but I struggle when a young woman is killed at the hands of a rapist or when a child runs into the path of an oncoming car and dies. When tragedies like these occur, I look heavenward in disbelief and cry out, "Why?"
Equally hard for me to accept are my own unfortunate missteps. My theological sensibilities tell me that God has forgiven and maybe even forgotten my wrong turns.
Regrettably, I want to press "replay" and do over what I didn't get right at first.
Maybe all I really need to do is follow the advice I gave an ailing woman I visited when making my chaplain rounds.
She asked with a worried look, "Is it true?"
"Is what true?" I replied.
"Does He really exit? When we die, will He really be there?"
"Yes," I reassured.
"Does He really forgive?"
"Yes." I said.
"Really?" She asked in disbelief.
"Really!" I responded with conviction.
A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Damon is a national and state award-winning columnist. Her columns have won first-place in National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women Communications Contests. In the 2010 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contest, Paula's columns took two first-place awards. To contact Paula, email firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her blog at www.my-story-your-story.blogspot.com and find her on Facebook.
2010© Paula Damon