If you don’t know about the tragic shootings in Pennsylvania, then I don’t know what to tell you, I’m not going to rehash the horrible events here. But there are a couple of things that came out of the news reports that give me concern. Both concerns are somewhat related, but only in the fact they concern Christianity and how we tend to perceive God and His will, and how the world sees our faith. Perhaps someone out there can help me get my mind around this; I’m not really sure where I’m going with this.

The first concern I have comes from a statement made by the father of two of the Amish girls who were shot, one of whom died and the other is seriously wounded. I can’t begin to imagine the grief and sorrow all of the families are experiencing, and as a father I have some idea, but I pray I NEVER experience what they are going through. And in the midst of their grief and pain they reach out in forgiveness and love to the family of the gunman. It just boggles my mind. That kind of faith and living out life as Jesus would have is an example for all of us, regardless of our theology. But one of the news stories quoted the father as saying that their faith would get them through this (and I rejoice in this fact) and they believe that this “was God’s plan, God’s will.” God’s plan?!? It was God’s plan for this man to walk into an Amish school and shoot 10 young girls, killing 5 of them (and now a 6th has been taken off life support)? It was God’s plan that this man was possibly planning on sexually assaulting them? It was God’s plan that he finally took his own life? I just have a hard time buying that. I know some will tell me God knew this was going to happen and He permitted it, but my big question is, “why?” I’m not questioning God; I would never presume that I know so much more than God. I’m questioning those that have a need to put every tragedy squarely on God’s shoulders. Tragedy that is present because of the evil and sin in this on-the-verge-of-a-meltdown world. I feel that God is with us in the midst of the tragedy, getting us through it like the father said, but He isn’t the cause of it. Or is He? Perhaps this thinking helps the family cope, but it would just make me mad.

My second concern is from a news story in the Patriot-News (see also USAToday.com) about the Westboro Baptist Church (I’m not giving a link to them; if you are interested Google it – it will disgust you). According to the article, the church “best known for routinely picketing military funerals, claims it has been “slandered, mocked and ridiculed” by (Gov. Ed) Rendell, whom the group accused of marshaling his police powers to “destroy” the church and “silence” its gospel message” will not picket at the funerals of the Amish girls in exchange for one hour of airtime on a national radio broadcast. These people feel they are doing God’s will. Is this the kind of God we serve? Is this the kind of God we want to serve? The things people do in the name of Christ, what is the secular media and their readers suppose to think about God?

I believe that God is all-knowing, all-powerful, present everywhere. And I also believe that God is all-loving, all-compassionate, all-just, and is angry and hurt by the choices we make. But sometimes I have a hard time reconciling both thoughts together.

Sorry, this is where I find myself this morning, tomorrow I may feel differently.