I learned recently that my old high school has had 3 students die unexpectedly this year. One was found hanged. One jumped off a garage. One "died unexpectedly." All were athletes. After reading about this disturbing news, I saw some of the comments attached to the post. There were a string of comments about "This is why we need God back in our schools." I was beyond puzzled by this line of thinking. Would you say this to the families of the kids who are dead? "If you had God in your lives, this wouldn't have happened." This response makes me angry. It is a callous response. It is a self-righteous response. It is a response devoid of love, compassion, empathy. How in the name of all that is holy could this ever be considered a Godly response?
In a way, this is the Christian spin on the destructive thinking espoused by Deepak Chopra's THE SECRET. "If you visualize positive outcomes and you think positively, good things will happen to you." The corollary, of course, is that if bad things happen to you, it's your fault. It's because you weren't positive enough, you didn't visualize enough, you weren't Godly enough.
Step into reality. Bad things sometimes happen to good people. That fact is probably one of the greatest stumbling blocks on the road towards faith. To deny that fact, or imply that the answer is simply that those people weren't good enough or faithful enough, is beyond offensive. It is cruel and hurtful and just plain false.
Who are we to measure what constitutes the right amount and form of God in our schools or anywhere else? What makes us think we are so powerful that we can control our world through our prayers or thoughts? We can't. There is a great deal in this world beyond our control. Recognizing that fact requires humility. True humility. The same humility that is required to accept that some aspects of God are unknowable from the vantage point of human life on earth.