This I Believe

Daniel - Maplewood, New Jersey
Entered on July 18, 2007

This I Believe

I believe that God is not interested in the individual.

Two experiences have helped form this belief.

The first was 9/11. My wife escaped from Tower #1, minutes before the second tower crumbled. Several of her co-workers perished among the nearly 3,000 that day. For weeks we heard amazing stories of near-death experiences from the attacks. Frequent explanations came down to: God chose to save me. And: I’m alive for a reason.

The second experience happened in May, when my three-year-old son was diagnosed with leukemia. Since his diagnosis hundreds, perhaps thousands of children have been diagnosed as well. While no child should die from a horrible disease, some inevitably will. This is a fact.

The minute we personalize events in terms of God’s wishes, we presume to know what God wants … or doesn’t want. If you tell a 9/11 survivor that he/she is alive for a reason, then by definition, we are saying that those who died, died for a reason. What reason? Was God angry with them? Did they commit a range of sins that led directly to their demise that day? Were all the really bad people on the highest floors at 7:46 a.m.?

Ceaselessly tragic though it is, many innocent lives are taken through natural and unnatural causes. It may provide comfort to tell ourselves that there’s a specific plan at work that involves us or our loved ones. But the logic underpinning such explanations is made of sand.

If my son should die of leukemia, I am certain there is no reason for it. He is three. He plays with trains and adores his sister. His greatest sin is … I cannot think of one. Still, he has a life-threatening disease that causes him to suffer. Other three-year-olds with his disease will die. Although my son’s prognosis is excellent, we cannot be sure what course his condition will take.

I do not pretend to know what God wants, and this does not offend me. I take greater comfort in summoning the strength to deal with life’s events, than in feeling singled out or trying to rationalize the unknowable.

God may be watching, but he is not playing favorites.