Tarnished Image

Free Tarnished Image by Alton L. Gansky

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Authors: Alton L. Gansky
let that happen?”
    David was nonplussed. It was not the question he had expected. Since David had taken on the responsibility for Timmy, he had been taking the boy to church. A year and a half ago, when his wife had deserted him, David had quit praying. It was during his first trip abroad to Ethiopia with A.J., Kristen, and others to Ethiopia that David had regained his spiritual balance. Since then he had been faithful to attend and support a local downtown church whenever he could. He took Timmy and Kristen with him. Timmy was now showing new spiritual roots.
    Timmy’s spiritual sensitivity proved remarkable. He had developed a real hunger for matters of faith, often quizzing David to distraction. One of David’s great joys was watching Timmy study the illustrations in a children’s picture Bible that he had purchased for him.
    “What do you mean, Timmy?”
    “Why did God let the wave happen?”
    The question was a deep one with which theologians had struggled for centuries: Why did God allow pain and suffering?
    “There’s no easy answer for that, Timmy.”
    Timmy looked at the now blank television screen. Clearly the answer had not satisfied him. “Oh.”
    David felt his stomach turn. This was an important question for Timmy, and David was uncertain how to answer. After four years of college, three years of seminary, and an additional two years to earn his doctorate, as well as over a decade of pastoral ministry, he felt that he should have all the answers to questions like this, but he did not. He did not have a response for Timmy, and he did not have an answer for himself. He knew the various philosophical arguments—pain is needed so that joy can be appreciated and similar platitudes—but he found those wanting.
    Many times David had held dying children in his arms, children too weak to receive the nourishment that Barringston Relief had brought too late. He had helped dig mass graves and hand-feed people too frail to pick up a spoonful of rice. He carried medical supplies to outlying areas of Africa and told stories to children in Brazilian orphanages. Each effort was rewarded with more peace than anything he had ever done, but in the still, quiet nights, the same question would come to mind. He was determined not to demean the suffering or insult God with simple one-line answers to such a profound question.
    Timmy was staring at David, waiting for an answer. “Timmy, I don’t know.”
    “Were those bad people?”
    “No, they weren’t bad.”
    Timmy pushed out his lower lip, something he did when pondering some difficult concept. “Did they do something wrong?”
    “Did they make God mad?”
    “Not that I know of, Timmy. The world is filled withsadness and pain. It always has been that way, and it always will be.”
    “Are there children in India?” Timmy asked.
    David nodded. “There are children everywhere, Timmy.”
    “Did they die too?”
    A sigh escaped David’s lips, and he hung his head. “Yes, Timmy. Many children died because of the wave.”
    “I don’t get it.”
    “Sometimes bad things happen. We live in a world that is dangerous. Sometimes something happens like a tsunami—that’s what the wave is called—and many people are affected. It’s part of living on our planet. That doesn’t mean that God made the big wave, Timmy. The big wave is an act of nature.”
    “Nature made a wave that God couldn’t stop?”
    “No, that’s not what I mean—”
    “Could God have stopped the wave?”
    “Well, yes, I suppose He could, if He wanted to.”
    “He didn’t want to?”
    This wasn’t working. David was struggling to help Timmy make sense of a tragedy and was failing miserably. “I wouldn’t say it like that. You’re asking a very difficult question, Timmy. I’m not sure there is a good answer for why tragedies like this happen.”
    “If we was in India—”
in India,” David corrected.
    “If we
in India, on the beach and everything, would

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