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Faces on Faith: See evidences of God’s kindness, mercy


PHOTO PROVIDED Pastor Jeramie Rinne

Our family has now been on Sanibel for four months. In that time we weathered several storms and saw the damage that high winds, heavy rains and waves cause. But those weather events bring something else as well: new shells! We’ve found ourselves combing the beach a few days after major storms looking for seashells to add to our growing collection.

Isn’t it interesting that something so destructive can bring beauty?

One of the greatest philosophical challenges for theism is the reality of suffering and evil in the world. C.S. Lewis called it “the problem of pain.” If God is real and good, then why does God let bad things happen? (Of course suffering and evil are a problem for atheists, as well. If there is no God, and there’s nothing beyond matter and energy, then why does everyone have categories like good and evil, happiness and suffering in the first place?)

I don’t have a comprehensive answer to the problem of pain. There will always be a degree of mystery in the ways of our creator, and in the experience of suffering. As a pastor, I have walked with many people through the valley of shadow of death, and I can never fully explain why the good shepherd chose to lead that way.

But one thing I can say is that God has a remarkable ability to bring beauty out of chaos. Just as rain brings rainbows and waves bring shells, so pain often produces some of the most beautiful traits in us: humility, resilience, empathy and a sense of perspective on what’s important in life.

And for those of us who are Christians, we see the ultimate example of this dynamic at the center of our faith: the cross. God took the greatest evil in human history — the crucifixion of the son of God — and used it to bring about the greatest good ever, namely the forgiveness of our sins.

Are you weathering a storm right now? Just because we live on this island paradise doesn’t mean we’re immune to suffering: illness, loss, loneliness, depression, family tensions and more. But if you pay attention you might just see evidences of God’s kindness and mercy.

Head over the beach this week. Look for a shell. There’s beauty to be found for those who will seek.

Pastor Jeramie Rinne is the senior pastor at the Sanibel Community Church.