Eric Douglas

The Rev. Eric Douglas

The Sunday after our return from this year’s youth mission trip, there was a plane crash in Addison. A small propeller plane took off and then, because of a mechanical issue, veered to one side and struck an empty hangar in the early morning hours.

Everyone aboard died in the crash.

I bring this up because one of the pilots was a member of a church where I served as pastor almost a decade ago. He was a young man, several years younger than I am, who had just celebrated his first wedding anniversary. He served his church as the volunteer youth leader and we’d had been able to say hello to each other in passing at the closing rally for the youth mission trip in College Station (their living center was seated beside ours). All in all, as a former pastor I can say he really was a great guy.

This is one of the hardships of faith. This wasn’t the first time, nor will it be the last time, I sit and think about why something like this happens to someone who seemed so undeserving of such tragedy. In fact, many of the hard events of life leave us feeling as if some sort of justification is needed. Why did God need to have that person leave? Why did that person have to get sick? Why did I have to lose my job? Many of these hard events leave us scared and hurt because we feel powerless. All things, for that moment, feel out of our control, and that is terrifying.

Christ reminded the people gathered to hear him teach that we really aren’t in control of much in this life. Matthew 6 25-27: “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life — whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”

In the midst of life we derive comfort from feeling like we have a measure of control over things. When we’re confronted with things like sudden loss we’re quickly reminded we have almost no control and, as Christ says, we can not add a single moment to our lives. The grand reality we live in is revealed to be simply a facade, like someone pulled back the curtain and revealed the horrible truth to Dorothy and her companions in the Wizard of Oz. It is events like this that put our world and views to hard questions and leave us seeing the weakness in everything we thought we really did control. In this stark, spiritual nakedness we feel shocked, hurt and, most of all, exposed.

This is when we cry out to God with the simple question of “Why!”

I am not fully convinced our cries of “why” are completely for those who we feel are hurt, but are in some manner our own loss of security in the fallacy of our control being exposed for the nothing that it is. We cry out for those who we feel have an unfair lot in life while also crying out for our own loss of control.

Just a few verses later in Matthew 6, Jesus pivots and reminds the crowd how much God really does care. “And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?”

Jesus reminds the crowd that God cares even for the flowers of the field and the random birds flying by outside your window. If God cares enough to provide for and clothe them, then how much more does He care for us? Sometimes, in the face of hard things in life, we just need those reminders that God really does care for everyone, even us.

Whatever you’re facing in life right now, look around and know that God cares for whatever situation you’re in, even more than the birds outside or the grass growing on the lawn. However hard, difficult or painful the situation feels, God is helping to bring you through and will help to make something good out of even the worst. Have faith and know that God still cares for you even now.

— The Rev. Eric Douglas is pastor of First United Methodist Church of Mineral Wells.