Pause for Thought with Ray Dadswell: The unfathomable purposes of God

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I wrote this article just over six years ago for the Personally Speaking column in the Eastbourne Advertiser. As you read, you will, I hope, appreciate why I am publishing it again ...

The question ‘Why?’ bothers me.

Okay, it’s acceptable when I’m in the classroom teaching, when I want my language students to talk a little more on a given subject and come up with a reasoned argument. Why this, or that, or the other?

But if I find I cannot quite follow the reasoning of God at a particular time or in a particular place, to dare to query him to his face, well, that is tantamount to blasphemy.

You and I, we’re human, and we find the words contained in the writings of Isaiah, the Old Testament prophet, very much to the point when we flounder in our uncertainties about the wherefores of personal and world affairs. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts, says the Lord’ (chapter 55, verse 9).

Together, though, we are bound to wonder as to the purpose of God behind the widespread tragedy of recent days, as well as some minor calamity that has taken place in our little lives in the past twelve months.

Is God going to reveal the answer to us? Does he have to explain himself? I don’t know. I don’t know.

Therein, of course, lies the frustration.

I want the people around me, my family, my colleagues, my friends, to enjoy the closest relationship with the Lord that is possible on this earth. I wish them to experience his love, mercy and grace in all their fullness.

So, what can I say, for goodness sake, when something like this happens?

My pathetic phrases seem a waste of breath.

I desperately desire to take up his cause, and try to make sense of it, not only for myself, but for those I rub shoulders with, both at home and outside.

To be honest, I can’t, and I must leave him to vindicate himself somehow. My only way out of this predicament is to hold on, and hold on tight, to another Bible promise: ‘As for God, his way is perfect. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him’ (Psalm 18, 30).

You may be asking what this disaster on another part of the globe has to do with me. Well, Phuket, South Thailand, one of the places badly hit by the tidal wave, was my home for more than a dozen years. The areas devastated and the communities ripped apart are all well-known to my family and to me.

Can I do anything from this safe distance? Yes, pray.

Now, it has happened again, and the immediacy of the television pictures on our screens has made it more poignant than before. And the answer to the question ‘Why?’? It still eludes me.