Leonard Pitts Jr.: Who are we to proclaim God's will?

BY LEONARD PITTS JR. Published: November 16, 2012
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“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.”

— Isaiah 55:8

I am not here to tell you God's will.

The temptation to do so is powerful, in light of the news out of a hospital in the United Kingdom: Malala has received a miracle.

You remember Malala Yousafzai, of course. She is the Pakistani girl from the conservative Swat Valley region of that country who came to international attention as a blogger and activist for the right of girls and women to be educated. This basic human freedom is a matter of great controversy among Islamic extremists, particularly the Taliban, which used to stage house-to-house raids in Malala's town, searching for girls in possession of books.

Last month, Taliban goons with guns attacked a van carrying Malala and her classmates home from school. Two other girls were hit, though their wounds were not life threatening. Malala's were. The bullets took her in the neck and the head.

A little over a month later, we learn from CNN that Malala is walking, reading, writing, smiling and is believed to have suffered no significant neurological damage in the attack. Against all odds, all reason, all sensible expectation for a teenage girl shot in the head and neck, it looks like she is going to be fine.

But I'm not here to tell you God's will.

Granted, Malala's miracle seems to deserve that — to cry out for it, in fact.

But putative people of faith are often too glib, facile and mean in claiming to have divined the divine. Just as often, their interpretations say less about God than about them, the things they hate and fear, the narrowness of their vision, the niggardliness of their souls.

The Rev. John Hagee, for example, said it was the will of God to drown New Orleans in Hurricane Katrina as punishment for the city's willingness to countenance a gay festival. He did not explain why the Good Lord swamped the rest of the city but left the sin-soaked French Quarter, site of the aforesaid festival, relatively unscathed.