Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Tragedy: Is God Mad At Me?

Dear Friends,

Thanks so much for stopping by my newly designed blog (isn't it great?!!?). Here, now and in the weeks to come, you’ll find insights into my latest book, Veil of Fire, as well as thoughts about the living life with God, and occasional spotlights on other novels from a Christian perspective.

My goal is to make this a place where you can come to think deeply about the things of God, to ignite your faith, to shake up pat answers, and to discover the wonder of God’s love for you.

And so, to that end, I offer the following . . .

Not long ago, someone asked me this question about an aspect of Veil of Fire, "One of the characters thought the fire might have been a judgment from God. Yet, your story didn’t give assent to that idea. What do you feel is the danger of ascribing every tragedy to a form of divine displeasure?"

And here’s what I answered:

When I think of the great men of faith in the Bible, I find people who were both close to God and also faced tragedy and pain – not for punishment or because of God's displeasure, but because that was part of what God had called them to in their journey with Him. Abraham, the father of faith, faced infertility. David was chased by a crazy king. Peter was hung upside down on a cross. Paul was beaten and thrown again and again into prison before being finally martyred. John, named the disciple Christ loved, was exiled. And those examples don’t even include prophets like Hosea, Jeremiah, Habakkuk.

And what happened to Christ Himself? He died on a cross.

So, these examples and many, many more in the Bible tell me that hardships, tragedies, and pain are often not a sign of God’s displeasure or punishment but rather are to be expected in a life lived with God. They also tell me that every tragedy can be transformed. It may still hurt and be oh-so-hard, but it need not be purposeless and futile. When God weaves the tapestry of our lives, some of the colors are those of pain and tragedy, but if we let him do the weaving, the picture can be one of breathtaking beauty.

So, given that, I see two big dangers in ascribing every tragedy to divine displeasure. First, such a view causes us to focus on ourselves and the question of “why” rather than focus on the “who” of who God is and how He is with us in the midst of our tragedies and pain. And second, the “punishment” view causes us to turn away from the very one who is there to help and strengthen us in the face of tragedy. Instead of looking to God to help us, we look at Him as an adversary, as the One causing the pain. The result is that we become estranged from God just when He is seeking to transform our tragedies into something that will strengthen us and make us new.

In the epilogue of Veil of Fire, the hermit says, “I am . . . loved by God even through fire. Loved too much for him to leave me in my pain. And I know that even though I will always carry the scars, inside I am healed of wounds far more deep, far more ugly than those the fire caused . . . I am made new.” And that is what I think is the main goal of God in our hurts, our hardships, our firestorms. He’s not looking to punish us; instead He wants to transform us and make us new.


Anonymous said...

God must have a greater work for me to do as I have walked through some much fire (and even within the church walls). Yet I know God will bring me through. Sometimes like Peter my eyes have left Jesus and I've almost gone under. I don't stay down very long because serving God so many years He has been my whole life.
I enjoyed your blog and will have to get your book to read.
jrs362@hotmail.com - Jane Squires

Julie D said...

Beautiful new website Marlo!!

Linda Fulkerson said...

Your new site looks AWESOME!

Lisa said...

Marlo - I love reading your thoughts. Thank you for sharing your heart so beautifully and reminding me that God is proactively at work teaching me and shaping me even in the hardest of times...I love the truth...unhidden...truth...insight. I also absolutely love your new web site...It is beautiful! Thanks for continuing to step out and share yourself...You are a blessing!
Love, Lisa :)

Michelle said...

Gorgeous and unique, just like you are!