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The Rescued Miners and Job

October 13, 2010
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It is with a global cry of joy that we greet the news today of the Chilean miners’ rescue.  All 33 of the miners who have been trapped since the beginning of August are now not only alive and physically ok, but back on the surface.  The world watched this ordeal with great interest, with CNN even putting up a live “Miner Rescue” animation that a friend of mine likened to ESPN Gameday.

 

With a profound sense of joy, we say “Thanks be to God!”  And for good reason!  Surely God’s hand was on them and God’s Spirit with them as they went through their terrible ordeal.

 

So, it would have to be tonight that we covered the Book of Job in our Old Testament survey bible study.  It would have to be tonight that we ask questions around a table about why do bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people.  It would have to be tonight when we ponder things like natural disasters and wonder where God is in all of it.  Much like when 9-11 happened, it is easy for us to proclaim that God was with these miners, as was proclaimed that God was with those who survived the Twin Towers.  But what about the ones who don’t make it?  What about the next industrial related accident where the workers don’t survive?  Where is God then?

 

Instead of being totally consumed with joy at the miners’ rescue (and I am happy about it!) I’m wondering what Job and his friends might have to say.  We talked tonight about how the ultimate reality that is God is unknowable and so questions of why does God help some and not others are, as Qoheleth might say, vanity and a chasing after wind.  But what kind of pastoral care is that?  How do you tell that to the next batch of miners’ families whose loved ones don’t survive a tunnel collapse?  What do you say to them when they ask, “Why did God spare the miners in Chile and not my husband/father/brother/son?”

 

I don’t know.  What do you all think?

 

Fr. Ryan+

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Pete permalink
    October 14, 2010 8:02 am

    I think God laid it all out for us and then watches what we do with it. Mines collapse because people did big holes and breach the Earth’s Integrity. Airplanes crash into towers because people flew them into them, etc. Free will is a bitch but also an opportunity to walk in God’s image.

  2. Mike Fox permalink
    October 14, 2010 5:50 pm

    A Chinese Taoist folktale sometimes called The Lost Horse:

    A man named Sei Weng owned a beautiful mare which was praised far and wide. One day this beautiful horse disappeared. The people of his village offered sympathy to Sei Weng for his great misfortune. Sei Weng said simply, “That’s the way it is.”

    A few days later the lost mare returned, followed by a beautiful wild stallion. The village congratulated Sei Weng for his good fortune. He said, “That’s the way it is.”

    Some time later, Sei Weng’s only son, while riding the stallion, fell off and broke his leg. The village people once again expressed their sympathy at Sei Weng’s misfortune. Sei Weng again said, “That’s the way it is.”

    Soon thereafter, war broke out and all the young men of the village except Sei Weng’s lame son were drafted and were killed in battle. The village people were amazed as Sei Weng’s good luck. His son was the only young man left alive in the village. But Sei Weng kept his same attitude: despite all the turmoil, gains and losses, he gave the same reply, “That’s the way it is.”

    The idea of Detachment is very importand to the Eastern traditions that I have read about – Zen, Taoism, and Vedanta. The idea is that you should not be concerned with either the good things or the bad things of this world, because ultimately they don’t matter. In some traditions, they aren’t even thought to be real! In the West we have the idea of living in the world but not of it, and the Stoics, which have a similar attitude.

    But ultimately I preferred the Christian idea of compassion. “That’s the way it is” is not a good response to the perple who lost loved ones. But on the other hand, an attitude like that HAS helped me deal with my own misfortunes. So – compassion and detachment – another pair of opposites that we have to learn to balance. We need both. To each there is a season, as the Preacher says.

    I LOVE Pete’s comment about Free Will. So true!

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