Tragedies like the collapse of the bridge in the city of Genoa, in Italy, trigger doubts and questions in peoples’ minds: “why did God not prevent this disaster?” The only certainty stems from faith that believes in the final victory of God over evil.
PUBLISHED ONJan 2019
On August 14, 2018, the Morandi Viaduct collapsed in the city of Genoa, Italy. Built in the 1960s, the bridge was 3.878 ft long and 148 ft high. Because of this tragedy dozens of cars were plunged to the ground, 43 people died, many were wounded and several houses near the bridge were damaged. Moreover the setback for communications within Italy and other countries in Europe was really heavy.
While in Italy for a period of rest, several people approached me with questions similar to the following: “Where was God when the bridge collapsed?”; “Why does God make us suffer?”; “If He has an infinite power, why doesn’t He free us from evils and solve our problems for us?”
Many people blame God for not acting to satisfy their needs and their requests.
My response to these questions is that God’s love is eternal, freely given and beyond every human expectation. His power is infinite. God is present and active in peoples’ lives, and brings them hope in their darkest moments.
The fact that the power of God is infinite does not mean that He can do everything for us. In fact He will never put on his shoulders responsibilities which are ours. For example, if a young man is going to have an exam, God will not do the exam for him. The young man has to study, to prepare himself for the exam and then do it. Eventually God will give him the energy and the courage needed for an exam, but will not do the exam Himself.
God Does Not Substitute Us
As for the bridge I spoke of above, there were professional people in charge of taking care of it, but seemingly did not. Was God supposed to do the work for them? Even when He works a miracle thanks to His almighty power, He will not impose Himself on His children. His children must welcome God and His miracle and act in gratitude and with responsibility.
What is then the meaning of God’s almighty power? God is Almighty in the sense that in the life of His children, there is no situation which is beyond His power to save. God is able to save a person always and everywhere.
Saint Therese of Lisieux had great faith in God’s almighty power and she even believed that, even if she had within herself the sins of the whole world, she would not lose her confidence in Christ Jesus the Savior, but she would go to Him with the certainty that all her sins would disappear in His mercy as a drop of water in a big fire.
God is also always with us in those moments that are painful and we consider dark. He speaks and acts continuously to save all people from depression and despair and give them strength and hope. But God does not impose Himself. It is up to us to be attentive in order to capture His presence and His action.
Unfortunately many people have put God in a corner or have excluded Him from the context of life by welcoming three idols as gods: power to control and even oppress people, pleasure without any moral consideration to the point of even using people, and prestige giving importance to the façade of the different realities rather than to their substance. I am convinced that this is a great tragedy because, where God is excluded, life cannot blossom and flourish; death prevails instead.
God is The Final Victor
Not everything that happens is wanted by God; in fact God cannot want violence, wars, hatred, oppression, killing, evil things. But for those who open themselves to God, nothing happens without God’s presence in their lives, an active presence which regenerates life. The people of Genoa have given a great witness to this: “We will not allow this tragedy to throw ourselves into the pit of despair; we commit ourselves to renew our life and to rebuild anew what was destroyed.”
The final victory does not belong to the forces of evil. It belongs to God and to those who remain faithful to Him. And so as we think and maybe worry about the future, let us be convinced of this: the destiny God has in store for us is not a great catastrophe, but it is His eternal kingdom, a kingdom of light and of fullness of life.
God is always active to save His children even in situations which appear dark and without hope. May all people throughout the world open up to Him and find salvation in Him.