Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Bridge in Minneapolis

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Bridge in Minneapolis

Article excerpt

Questions abound after the tragic bridge collapse in Minneapolis last week. Given the nightmare sequence of events, some of those questions are: How could this happen? Who's to blame? But a surprising number of questions spring from the upbeat. Questions like, How did so many victims escape to safety? Or, whoever knew so many good Samaritans would risk life and limb to rescue others?

Back on the downside, another question, one from the literary world, also applies. It appears in Thornton Wilder's classic novel, "The Bridge of San Luis Rey," in which a bridge collapses and five people die. The central character asks the question at the book's core: "Why did this happen to those five?" The question resonates with many readers who have asked, in one form or another, that very thing. Who hasn't faced unexpected tragedy in his or her own life, or in the life of a friend? Who hasn't wondered, Why? Why them? Why me?

Asking big questions is one of the jobs of great literature. Perhaps it would be asking too much for great literature to also provide answers. But with Minneapolis on my mind, I wonder. So I take that question from "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" not to a novel but to the Scriptures. I look at the ministry of Christ Jesus. I pay attention to his words, and even more attention to his works. Do they hold answers?

I consider the Master's encounter with a man born blind. It begins with a question from a disciple: "Who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?" (John 9:2). Jesus' most profound response - at least to me - is in what he does. He heals the man. Quickly, I jump to another account. Peter's mother-in-law is sick with a fever. Evidently this isn't a high priority with the disciples. The Scriptures imply delay on their part. But as soon as Jesus learns of her plight, he heals her instantly.

I ask again. Why was it he who was blind? Why was it she who was sick? It dawns on me. These questions are out of date. The healing action of the Christ - the spirit of God's presence and power - has made them obsolete. …

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