Soothing our Fears with Blame

A young man of 17 died a few days ago at our local State Park. He crossed a barrier he shouldn’t have and ended up being swept down the falls. This is a heartbreak for his family and for the church group he was with. I can not imagine what his family and his church are going through right now.

 My family goes to this park frequently and my daughter was just there with our youth group. These common factors are scary to me and they are usually soothed in a terrible but common way. I quickly tell myself, “I am not them, my daughter is not this boy. She would never do what he did. We would never take our eyes off her.” These are the things make me feel safe again and that is just plain wrong. Very wrong.
I have seen others resort to this coping mechanism in the comments on news stories when children are hurt. People are quick to fuss and judge and be outraged at the adults involved. This is not only because there are evil, heartless people in this world. It is because we are soothed from our initial fears by analyzing and criticizing. This is an attempt to remove ourselves from the group of people that tragedy can happen to. Since the beginning of time, blame has made us feel better.
Of course it is only God’s sovereignty that separates the victims from the blamers. Most of us would not dare rage against Him so we rage elsewhere, hurting people who are in need of our support. We can not even say, “But for the grace of God…” because so many of those who have suffered this kind of loss will tell you, God’s grace is still somehow, beyond reason, at work.

Who sinned?

While discussing this, my younger, but often wiser sister reminded me of the disciples doing this. In  John 9:2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” They too wanted to believe that something or someone was to blame for this tragedy. Jesus responds to them that the man was born blind so that God may be glorified. Then the healing of the blind man takes place.

I don’t understand why some people get divine intervention that stops tragedy and some don’t. I have been the grateful receiver of many interventions that have saved those I love from harm. This is one of life’s great questions and it most definitely will not be solved by me. I do hope, however, that I will be able to stop trying to assign blame or separate myself from these hurting people and start praying for their healing and God’s will.

There is a delicate balance between being a responsible parent and letting your child go into God’s care. The more tragic stories you know, the harder it can be to relax in His care. Since we know better than to take credit for the blessing of safe and healthy children, let’s be sure  to withhold blame from mere humans when they are trying , like all of us, to be stewards of His child.

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