When the Gods Are Angry

When the Gods Are Angry April 19, 2016



As thunderstorms rumble over the house this morning, I think it’s no wonder primitive people believed the gods were angry and sought ways to appease them.

How can we get Zeus to stop hurling thunderbolts at us?!

Anything they couldn’t explain – which was most things, at the time – they attributed to the gods.

We still do.

Sure, we have a longer list of things we can explain, like the weather. We know what causes most illnesses. We know how babies are conceived.

We just don’t always know why things happen.

Why a tornado destroys one family’s home and not the one next door.

Why an illness kills one person and not another, or strikes someone healthy and not someone frail.

Why one child is autistic and others aren’t.

We keep asking the age-old question: Why do bad things happen to good people? Even when we have scientific explanations, we wonder whether the challenges of life are really necessary.

How can we get Zeus to stop hurling thunderbolts at us?!

You’ll hear people call it God’s will or say God is testing us.

If we can’t keep these things from happening, then at least we want them to make sense!

What meaning can we give to life’s difficulties?



The world’s religions developed partly to answer that question.

Remember when Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden? As the story goes in Genesis 3, their punishment from God was that Eve would have pain in childbirth, and Adam would have to farm in thorns and thistles “by the sweat of your face.”

The story was trying to answer some questions of existence. Why is childbirth so painful? Why is subsistence so difficult? The conclusion was, God must be angry.

We know now what makes childbirth painful, and we understand the variables in farming, but we still have questions about why things are the way they are.

Why me? Why now? What am I supposed to learn from this? Even, Why is this happening for me?

So here’s another question:

What if we simply don’t understand yet?

What if life’s painful events are part of a bigger picture we can’t see from where we’re standing?

You can probably think of times in your life that first appeared disastrous, then turned out to be a blessing. Maybe our whole lives are like that.



I suspect we will always live with some mystery.

We will always be living in questions, whether scientific or existential. We will never completely grasp why we’re here or how our stories are to unfold.

And that’s by design. When we master this plane, we’ll move to a higher one to learn more.

Our sense of miracles and mysteries might continue to shrink as we better understand the scientific causes at work in our lives.

But even when events can be explained, we still can be in awe of them.

We know where babies come from, but is it any less a miracle? We know a brilliant sunset is caused by the low angle of light scattered by air molecules, but do we enjoy it any less?

Look around at your life right now. What can you be in awe of, whether you understand it or not?

Let life be a little mysterious today.


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