Last year, we had a new roof put on our church building. Our chapel is over 125 years old, and as far as anyone knew, the old roof was the original. Since it was a metal roof, that’s not a miracle or anything. Still, it lasted a long time—kind of like the Hebrew sandals in the Sinai Desert. But over the years it was wearing a little thin. Even metal can erode over time.
So now we have this nice, new, shiny, metal roof. And since we were sending a crew up there already, we decided to have the gutters replaced as well. It just made sense.
One day this spring, someone glanced up at the east side of the building and noticed the gutter was flipped up and pulling away from the building. I told everyone not to be concerned. I was sure it would be covered under the warranty, and I told them I would call the roofing company and have them take care of the problem.
I did that, and they were very nice about it. They said they would send someone out that week to check it out and get us on their calendar for a repair job.
Before too long, I received a sizeable estimate from that company to fix the gutters. I was surprised (and a tad confused), so I called them up. They said the damage was not covered by warranty because it was “an act of God.”
“God gets blamed for a lot of stuff…”
Frankly, you could have knocked me over with a feather. I almost wanted to reply, “Hey! We’re a church. God wouldn’t do that to us! You’re obviously mistaken.” But I’ve been around long enough to know better than to shoot from the hip like that. Besides, I wasn’t exactly sure that would be correct. As they say, God works in mysterious ways.
I’ve noticed over the years that God gets blamed for a lot of stuff like that—occurrences like diseases, accidents, hurricanes, earthquakes, hail, floods, and forest fires. Does he dislike us that much? What in the world is he thinking?
If the Bible is any indication, God doesn’t hate us at all. In fact, just the opposite is true. The very point of Scripture seems to be that God loves us. With all we’ve done in opposition to his will, it’s a wonder how that can be true. Still, he loves his creation.
Genesis conveys that humanity is the pinnacle of God’s design. Yet, each of us is a small part of a larger whole that God holds together every moment of every day. Stuff happens that we don’t like. Blaming God for every malady doesn’t seem very helpful. I didn’t protect my kids from every negative in life. God doesn’t either.
Many years ago, a massive tornado passed through an area near my hometown. A church building was in its path. The only things left were the cement steps out front. God must have really loved those steps.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]