Hurricanes and Forest Fires


9 September 2017

Like so many people, my attention and my concern this week end goes out to all those people affected – and soon to be affected – by hurricanes and continuing forest fires. What do we say and do, when bad things happen?
Right now I am in more of a contemplative than a writing mood. I too have family and friends affected by this week end’s developments.

In 1981 the prominent American rabbi, Harold S. Kushner, published a book titled “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.” The book deals with questions about human suffering, God, omnipotence, and a contemporary theology. Perhaps next week I will explore a bit more of his thinking; but today I would like share a couple quotations that have helped me and kept me going over the years: 

God does not cause our misfortunes. Some are caused by bad luck, some are caused by bad people, and some are simply an inevitable consequence of our being human and being mortal. living in a world of inflexible natural laws.  

The painful things that happen to us are not punishments for our misbehavior, nor are they in any way part of some grand design on God’s part. Because the tragedy is not God’s will, we need not feel hurt or betrayed by God when tragedy strikes….. Given the unfairness that strikes so many people in life, I would rather believe in a God of limited power and unlimited love and justice, rather than the other way around.

One of the basic needs of every human being is the need to be loved, to have our wishes and feelings taken seriously, to be validated as people who matter.

6 thoughts on “Hurricanes and Forest Fires

  1. A wise teacher of mine, Jim Finley, puts it this way: God’s love protects us from nothing even as it sustains us in everything.

  2. Thank you, Jack. I love your thoughts and have been a fan of Rabbi Kuschner’s book, and his thoughts, for over 30 years. Praying that your friends and family remain safe.

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