Everyone’s thoughts and conversation has been directed toward the collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis this week.  At this point, there are still lots of questions about why and how the bridge fell, and how many people are still entombed in the mud and silt under the wreckage.  It is certainly a time for prayer on behalf of the anxious families who have lost loved ones, the injured victims who are still recovering in hospitals, and the diligent workers who are trying to recover the bodies from the muddy waters. 

I have read several articles reflecting on the spiritual implications of this tragedy, but perhaps the most pertinent is by John Piper, pastor Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis.  On the night of the disaster, he sat down and wrote a touching and thoughtful article.  You can read the entire article here but I want to post this excerpt.

We prayed during our family devotions. Talitha (11 years old) and Noel and I prayed earnestly for the families affected by the calamity and for the others in our city. Talitha prayed “Please don’t let anyone blame God for this but give thanks that they were saved.” When I sat on her bed and tucked her in and blessed her and sang over her a few minutes ago, I said, “You know, Talitha, that was a good prayer, because when people ‘blame’ God for something, they are angry with him, and they are saying that he has done something wrong. That’s what “blame” means: accuse somebody of wrongdoing. But you and I know that God did not do anything wrong. God always does what is wise. And you and I know that God could have held up that bridge with one hand.” Talitha said, “With his pinky.” “Yes,” I said, “with his pinky. Which means that God had a purpose for not holding up that bridge, knowing all that would happen, and he is infinitely wise in all that he wills.”

Talitha said, “Maybe he let it fall because he wanted all the people of Minneapolis to fear him.” “Yes, Talitha,” I said, “I am sure that is one of the reasons God let the bridge fall.”

God wants all the people of the world to fear Him.  This is our reason for existing.  We need to take seriously the command to take the gospel into all the world, because none of us knows whether or not we may be the victims of some unforeseen accident, tragedy, or sickness.   When our kids ask about the bridges falling, the war in Iraq, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, or even Aunt Sally’s cancer, we need to be prepared to remind them of God’s gracious mercy which is found in Christ alone.  And maybe we should listen to them, because they might have a better understanding than we ourselves.