Hope for the Happi-less Pt. 2
Some of you may be wondering if I've become a disciple of Norman Vincent Peale, the father of modern-day evangelicalism's infatuation with positive thinking and it's power. You remember his theory of "if you think good thoughts, good things will happen to you."
Well, I don't agree with Norman Vincent Peale or his disciple, "The Hour of Power's" own Robert Schuller. In fact I would be an adamant opponent of this kind of thinking and theology. So, what are my intentions (the same question my wife's father asked about 12 years ago!)?
Let me explain with two personal examples of my tendency toward cynicism!
Example 1 ... My response to the tsunami in Southeastern Asia on December 26, 2004: Yep...God is judging all those Muslims. That region of Asia is arguably the darkest spiritual region of the world...and the tsunami is God's way of getting even with them.
Example 2 ... My response to Hurricane Katrina ravaging New Orleans on August 29: Yep (again) ... God is judging America's version of Sodom and Gomorrah. With all that revelry and promiscuity they call Mardi Gras, God's judgment was sure to come, and it did in the form of a category 3 hurricane.
So, how did I view these disasters through my theological eyeglasses? I simply felt that "THIS IS WHAT THESE PEOPLE DESERVE." Cities were ravaged, people were swept away, children lost their parents and their lives...and my response was, "Well, that's God's judgment on their sinfulness...these are such sinful places...what has happened shouldn't surprise us."
This is cynicism at its best (or worst). You see, cynicism exploits our pride (or maybe reveals it). Now for the translation of what I really was saying...
"I sure am glad I'm not like one of those Muslims...or New Orleans residents. Those Muslims are always building bombs and blowing up trains and planes. And New Orleans is such a wicked place filled with such wicked practices. Lord, those people are such great sinners...good thing I'm not."
Do you realize who I sounded like? You got it...the Pharisees. Cynicism, causticism and criticism cause us to sound more like a pharisee than like Jesus. So, what has God taught me from these experiences?
He has taught me that my cynicism is the result of thinking I know why God does what He does. Paul reminds us in Romans 11:34, "For who has known the mind of the Lord? or who has been his counselor?"
Do I know why God ordained a tsunami for Southeastern Asia rather than Africa, where spiritism rules? Do I understand why God ordained a hurricane for New Orleans and spared Las Vegas and St. Louis? I cannot know God's reasons, nor could I ever begin to understand them.
Here's my hope (dare I say "resolutions") for a happier 2006. By God's grace I will...
1) Remember what I, as a sinner, deserve rather than focusing on what others because of their sin, deserve.
2) Understand that God's reasons for doing what He does in heaven and earth are beyond my comprehension.
3) Show compassion rather than judgment toward all who are suffering, regardless of whether it is what they may deserve.
Next I will consider the apparent dilemma between happiness and holiness. And Lord-willing, the world will look a little different from my window next year!