In Walter Isaacson’s bestselling book titled Steve Jobs, chronicling the life of the famous founder of the Apple Corporation, he relays a story of when Jobs was a teenager. He had grown up with parents who always desired Jobs to be raised in the Christian faith. So, they started attending a Lutheran church with some regularity.
When Jobs was 13 years old, he went in to see the Lutheran pastor, and in his hand was the latest cover of Life magazine, from July 12, 1969. On the cover were two starving children, victims of the ongoing war in Biafra, against Nigeria.
He asked the pastor, “If I hold up my fingers, does God know how many fingers I’m about to hold up?” And the pastor said, “Yes, God knows everything.” Then Jobs showed the pastor the cover. “Then does God know about this? And what’s going to happen to these children?”
The pastor stammered around with some answers: “Yes, God knows … We don’t understand…” Those kinds of statements.
Jobs then announced that he didn’t want to have anything to do with any kind of religion that believes in a God like that. And he never stepped foot in a church ever again.
“THE ULTIMATE CHESS MATCH”
The question of why people suffer, and God’s relationship to that suffering, is the hardest question we face in the Christian life. Preacher and author Tom Long has termed this dilemma “The Ultimate Chess Match.” On the one side is all we have believed or wanted to believe about God’s love and power. On the other side is the reality of a world where innocent people suffer and evil exists. The two sides are at war, in a game never to be fully resolved.
This Sunday, we will read a story from Luke’s gospel that more directly confronts this question than nearly any other in the passage in the Bible. It’s a story that the other gospels don’t try to touch; only Luke offers it, as an invitation to us to bring our most difficult questions about our own personal suffering, and find some redemptive hope in Jesus.
None of us are immune to suffering. If you or someone you love is going through a hard time right now, let’s come together this Sunday, and open our hearts and minds to the lessons that God would have for us.
Grace and peace,
The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist
IMPLEMENTATION TEAM UPDATES
In case you missed it, last week’s Midweek Message shared some important and exciting updates. You can read the Midweek Message, read the final report of our visioning process, and view the announcement video.