I was driving in Edinburgh yesterday afternoon when my ‘hands free phone’ rang in the car. I was greeted with the terrible breaking news that a runaway bin lorry had careered over 250 yards down Queen Street: one of the busiest streets in Glasgow, injuring a number of people while others were assumed dead. I took a deep breath as i learned that a member of my family had just walked past the scene of the accident about five minutes before the horrific incident took place.
You can imagine my stomach churned over. Immediately you think, “What if ? ” Then in a flash you automatically feel grateful that your family member is safe. Suddenly, your thoughts and prayers reach out to the others. Those who lost their lives and what of their family members who are left to make sense of something that seems senseless?
In moments like these there seems no justice, or meaning, or God protecting us from the consequences of being alive. Life feels so unpredictable. One moment you could be buying a Christmas present for a loved one, the next moment you’re on you hands and knees in the midst of chaos trying to save the life of a stranger, lying injured on a cold damp pavement. What is remarkable and so human and dare I say God-like yet paradoxical - is the actions of perfect strangers placing themselves in danger to save another human being.
We live in a beautiful but dangerous world. It was only last Monday that we learned of the siege in Sydney and then the following day of the massacre of 131 children in Peshawar. Both of these incidents were the results of human beings acting out of revenge. However what happened in Glasgow today can only be described as a tragic accident. Like the helicopter last year falling out of the sky, there can be no easy answers for those who bear the loss. The people of Glasgow are facing the tragedy of the unpredictable risks which face us all because we are alive.
So how do we live with our questions and our faith in the face of these risks? The answer may sound pretty simple, however it is devastatingly difficult. Yet we just have to try to live with faith in our hearts and questions on our lips. To live without hope is to live without a future. To live for a future requires us to somehow believe that even when we only see meaningless chaos at work in the world there is order that can be created out of chaos.
For the moment, like many, I need to take time to live with my questions even if the answers seem to evade me. In Psalm 77 the psalmist suggests God is big enough to understand our anger disappointment and frustration. When it comes to working out the faith consequences, of living in a world where the unpredictable risks of living, invite us to ask difficult questions of God the psalmist says, keep asking your questions. You’ll find comfort often before you’ll find an answer. When answers do come, it will be in the strangest of places and among the most unexpected of people.