June 23, 2016 - What is God For?

At that time the officials of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon,
attacked Jerusalem, and the city came under siege.
Then Jehoiachin, king of Judah, together with his mother,
his ministers, officers, and functionaries,
surrendered to the king of Babylon, who,
in the eighth year of his reign, took him captive.
And he carried off all the treasures
of the Temple of the Lord and those of the palace,
and broke up all the gold utensils that Solomon, king of Israel,
had provided in the Temple of the Lord, as the Lord had foretold.
He deported all Jerusalem:
all the officers and men of the army, ten thousand in number,
and all the craftsmen and smiths.
None were left among the people of the land except the poor.

2 Kings 24:8-17

Despite being the Chosen People, Israel has suffered tremendously throughout history.  The Temple was destroyed not once but twice, and in each case the calamity was foretold or seemingly foretold in Scripture itself.  The Babylonian exile, which begins with today’s passage, was only one of several holocausts to which God’s Chosen People have been subjected after God made the Covenant with Israel.   

It is strange then, that faith so often includes the assumption that God will protect us from misfortune.  People routinely report losing their faith when something horrible happens to them or to someone they love.  But faith is not about magical intervention of God.  Our relationship to God is very much like our relationship to other people; we would not disown our parents, or our children or our friends because they don’t serve some practical purpose.   So why do we insist that God serve a practical purpose to be worthy of our attention?  And why do we insist that we must serve some practical purpose to be worthy of God’s attention?