Day 2 of the purpose driven life discusses the purposes of God for each and every man. Psalm 139 is quoted (although not in a familiar version)
O LORD , you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
as was Acts 17
The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.
I supose that it is the very difficulty of applying these kind of words to the victims of the recent tsumami that means that neo-liberals would have difficulty with these concepts. It may initially seem easier to consign the notion of such an all powerful God who has a plan and purpose for the lives of humankind to the dustbin of history when we see such senseless and meaningless death.
Of course, if we do so and either no longer beleive in God at all or re-create him in the way the Open Theists do as being as much thrown by events as we are it is no longer just the victims of such tragedies who’s lives have no meaning. Rather it becomes all of us.
Without God life makes no sense and it should not really bother me that much that so many people have died- for why are they any more important than the animals?
God dignifies life and makes us more than simply advanced apes. Each one who lost a life was made in God’s image and it is right for us to mourn and ask the question “Why such senseless loss of life?”. But the more important question is surely “Why do so many lives pass us by so quickly and are lost as surely as those swept away?” I will never forget the over 80 year old man I once saw with terminal cancer who was angrily demanding more time to live. “Its much too soon to die!”. It always is. And for so many who die the question is just what have they left behind.
When I die, I hope I will have left some kind of impact on the world, fulfilled some kind of purpose, made some kind of difference. I hope I will have fulfilled the purpose God has for me.
I hope we suddenly realise that the most important way we make a difference is in the small things that only we can do- in loving our families, in doing well in our jobs, in raising children, and yes, in reaching out and giving of both our money and ourselves.
I preached on generosity just before Christmas, and never dreamed that this holiday season we would see such a great example of many people pouring money into helping others less fortunate than themselves. If the number of deaths are the greatest in living memory, the donations from ordinary people are themselves unprecedented. Perhaps in some small way this collective generous-hearted response like nothing the world has ever seen gives at least some meaning to the over 100,000 lives lost on Boxing Day and the many more who may die of disease before this is over.