We're heading back into the book of Job for some insight on pain, suffering, and tragedy...
One of Job's friends claims that God doesn't bend the rules of justice. It's a pretty tough world he claims: if you break the rules, God will punish you; but if you follow the rules, God will reward you.
When I worked as chaplain at Children's Medical Center in Dallas, I ran into Job's friend all the time. If their child was sick with a terminal illness, they would pray harder, hoping that God would reward them for their faith. If the child died, they thought somebody must have sinned or done something wrong to deserve God's wrath.
This is then expanded to the world stage. We hear all sorts of people saying that God sent Hurricane Katrina to New Orleans because it was sinful. Or that terrible diseases like AIDS afflict gays and lesbians because they are sinful.
This cannot be the case. Humans do suffer in our tragic world precisely because of the fact that they are humans. Tragedy is not necessarily dependent on any particular deed humanity may or may not have done. Wicked and evil people go untouched. The scales of justice don't operate at all times or in all places.
What can Christians say in response to those dying children in Dallas, those starving people in Pakistan, or the devastated city of New Orleans? Let us pray. Let us pray in remembrance that God is known to have suffered and share with us in the pain of being human. Let us pray that where wrongs can be righted, we have the strength and courage to do so. Let us pray that when life totally and utterly sucks, we recognize the fact that yes, indeed, life sucks. Let us pray.