Only God Knows

When we human beings come to the limits of our finite minds and admit to our own deficient capabilities and abilities, we say, “Only God knows”.

In the face of some mind-boggling and heart-chilling happenings, it is hard to think of a more accurate expression than this to describe the superlative crimes which have been committed for whatever reason.

In fact, as a human being with all my limitations and shortcomings, I fail to even begin to understand let alone come to terms with the headlines which stare at me these days: the Mumbai attacks and the sentencing of a person to 18 years imprisonment which rewakens us to the crimes committed against a domestic worker years ago.

To say, “Only God knows” is of course to acknowledge that God is the Final Judge in everything and in all human affairs. Ultimately it is God’s judgment which counts for absolute truth. Some who were found by human institutions of justice to be guilty may in fact and truth be known to God to be innocent and some who have been found innocent by these same human institutions of justice in God’s eyes may be guilty.

The ultimate truth is with God.

So are the motives and reasons why human beings such as we are do what they do. This as well as the human reasoning that comes with human actions deemed necessary.

What failings of a domestic worker deserve a hot iron on her back and breasts and hot water on her legs? And what will it profit an employer to resort to such sadistic weapons as hot water and hot iron? What can drive a human being to perform such horrific acts upon another human being? What motive or reason could cause an educated professionally-employable human being to throw all cautions and control to the wind so as to do something which will exile her to eighteen years of incarceration and worse still plunge her entire family into helpless anguish?

In this particular case the accused is publicly proclaimed by her lawyers to be a staunch Christian. If so, and if the court’s judgement is on target, this will send a chill in the leadership of Christian churches throughout the country and raise the question of the real quality and effectiveness of our religious activities and where we might have failed in nurturing the flock.

But the Christian Church along with the whole adult population of the country will need to reflect long and hard about how we treat our employees at home and at work. Subordinates including those from abroad are human beings with God-endowed dignity and self-worth. There is no way that atrocities performed on any human being can ever be justified or sanctioned by any cultural or religious creed or community.

As for the Mumbai attacks, the regularity of such seeming sporadic war on ordinary civilians does not make us get used to the sheer monstrosity of such casual destruction of human lives. Again many questions can and must be raised concerning how any political or religious cause or objective could be furthered by the taking of human lives. Can any end be justified by such means?

In Malaysia, some famous or infamous cases await completion or their day (or years) in court. Some have gone to the extent of swearing their innocence outside of the court system. As always, motives and why some people do what they do against other human beings are at the core of these matters.

On all of the above, I end as I had begun: God has the final say in all this.

Jesus said, “Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.” (Luke 12.3)

2 Replies to “Only God Knows”

  1. The problem really is how everyone, Christians included, look for differences rather than similarities. How much easier it is to think someone is different rather than the same? How many Christians look at the domestic worker, construction worker and rubbish collector and think, “they are the same as me”?

    CS Lewis once wrote, “…it is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since world began. Other vices may sometimes bring people together… But Pride always means enmity – it is enmity. And not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God.”

    And he goes on, “Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good – above all, that we are better than someone else – I think we may be sure that we are being acted on, not by God, but by the devil… For Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love or contentment or even common sense.”

    Honestly, I couldn’t agree more with CS Lewis. Unfortunately, I have not been exempt of Pride…

  2. I’d like to take Daniel’s idea on differences and similarities further. It’s how we understand differences and similarities that are crucial.

    On one hand, when I see the person before me regardless of creed, character or career, they are fellow human beings created in the image of God – paradoxically having dignity as well as broken by the hardship of life.

    On the other hand, the human being fellow child of God before me is unique and different, offering a chance for me to see my own uniqueness as well. God is indeed creative in his human projects.

    Too often, the temptation to be preoccupied with our own anger and frustration and then losing sight and losing control resulting in treating those before us as objects is a real present danger. Pride is one aspect, but the hidden pains and brokenness which require healing and attention is another less mentioned factor perhaps for fear of it becoming an excuse for wrongdoing.

    No matter what, we are responsible for our actions. And during this season of Advent, in the light of the need for us to confront ourselves honestly, we humble ourselves to discover what “Only God knows” … even just a glimpse, so we can respond appropriately. The good old word is “repentance” I think.

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