People pray, even those who wouldn't normally turn to God, because
they're created in the image of God, said Father Ron Jackson of St.
Luke's of the Mountains Episcopal Church. The prayer may be
unconventional, he said, "but we pray almost by instinct. I think that's
the way God created us, to know his presence and strength."
Questions asked of God in the midst of suffering are valid, area
religious leaders agreed. Ken Baker, pastor of congregational care at
Glendale Presbyterian Church, said he is sure God is with those who
suffer. The foundation for his certainty is Psalm 46:1-2, he said. The
"o7 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains
fall into the heart of the sea.f7 "
And yet, "It's a world where we are small, frail people subject to all
sorts of calamity," Baker said. "Regardless of our beliefs, God doesn't
protect us from acts of terrorism."
Which begs the question: Why not? If God created a world where no one
suffered, Baker said, people wouldn't need a power greater than
Questioning God is something people have a right to do, said Cantor
Bradley Hyman of Temple Sinai in Glendale. "It's in our nature," he said.
"But the other side of that is temperance."
People have to be careful not to anthropomorphize God, giving him
attributes he doesn't have because they don't understand him, Hyman said.
People "put a lot of pressure on God" by questioning him, Hyman said.
But the way he sees it, humans partner with God in life and need to take
more responsibility for each other to combat life's tragedies.
Life's tragedy and evil weren't a part of God's original creation,
said Father Albert Bahhuth of Holy Family Catholic Church. Based on his
understanding of Genesis, Bahhuth said evil entered the world when humans
chose to disobey God. It's significant that God allowed humanity to make
its own choices, Bahhuth said. If we couldn't choose, "then as his
children we wouldn't be able to love him freely," he said.
If death and destruction aren't a part of God's plan for humanity,
then where is God when bad things happen?
"He's there to give us hope, to help us go on, and to say, 'Yes, we
can conquer evil," Bahhuth said. "Evil isn't going to win. Through
loving, as God loves us, we can transform evil and become what God
intended the world to be like."