I keep straining my ears to hear a sound.
Maybe someone is digging underground,
or have they given up and all gone home to bed,
thinking those who once existed must be dead. -- New York Mining Disaster 1941
Does anyone know where the love of God goes
when the waves turn the minutes to hours? -- The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
"'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'" -- Jesus
The mining disaster in Tallmansville, West Virginia, with its especially cruel interlude of premature hope before it became clear that all but one of the trapped m miners had died, has weighed heavy on my mind this week. It's odd that, in a year filled with disasters around the world, this local, small-scale tragedy should make such an impression. Perhaps it's because we were waiting, in our living rooms, along with those miners' families, seeing and hearing them as they kept vigil for hours, enjoyed a brief respite, then had their happiness crushed.
Theodicy -- the theological conversation focusing on why God does what God does, or doesn't do -- is a stone that I think has crushed more than one fragile faith. My speculations are no better than others. But when I try to reconcile the bad things that happen in the world on an ongoing basis with my faith, I keep coming back to something Dan Erlander wrote in his book Baptized We Live; when I first read these words I found them incredibly jarring, but the more I've lived with them, the more they've provided me with a touchstone when bad things happen:
We live by trust and not by certitude...we live in ambiguity. Life is joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, good and evil, health and sickness. Having no proof that God cares, we take the "leap of faith." We trust that God is good, that God means us well...we trust that God will bring the shalom.