Behind George Zimmerman’s comment, shooting ‘God’s plan’

In perhaps the most shocking development to come out of the Trayvon Martin shooting, since George Zimmerman‘s alleged plans to flee the country, occurred in an interview with Fox’s Sean Hannity. During the interview, Zimmerman discussed a number of topics, but the one that caught my attention the most was his comment about God in relation to the shooting:

I feel like it was all God’s plan and for me to second guess it or judge it…

Later in the interview, Zimmerman said that he prays for Martin’s parent’s daily.

So let’s take a step back here. We have to ask, “What’s really behind Zimmerman’s comment that the shooting was, “God’s plan”? Why does he pull out the God card? According to George Zimmerman, God works through a plan in which he orders shootings and people are devoid of responsibility?

Trayvon Martin’s father, said later in an interview with the Associated Press:

We must worship a different God. There is no way that my God wanted George Zimmerman to murder my teenage son.

It appears that George Zimmerman sees God has a divine force that causes both good and evil. In addition, it appears that Zimmerman believes that God causes people to die a horrible death (e.g. dying from a gunshot). Seeing God through these lenses forces us to believe that there is no cause and effect to our actions.  If we bring a gun to a conflict and shoot someone, then we are responsible (though, legally we may not be liable for punishment). Often, people think that the Bible answers the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people.” The Bible holds no such answer because it is an epic story of God’s people living in relationship with their Creator. Scholar N.T. Wright help us to understand God’s involvement in evil and suffering:

I don’t think much of the Bible is actually addressing the question, ‘Why is there suffering?’, but rather the question, ‘What is God doing about it?’. When cause-and-effect sequences do occur, as in Amos etc., I read them within the prophetic call to Israel and the warnings, proper to humans in general and covenant people in particular, about the consequences of not going with the grain of the creator’s purposes. (If I say to my teenage son, ‘The reason you came off the road is that you were driving too fast round the corner,’ I am pointing out a cause-and-effect sequence which he was apparently ignoring…

For George Zimmerman, it appears he believes that his actions and the actions of Trayvon Martin were completely beyond their own control, since it was “God’s plan”. However, there are causes and effects to our actions. When something bad happens we cannot just throw up our hands and say, “Well, it’s God’s plan.” That is one of the most callous things to say to someone who just lost a loved one or is experiencing some extreme hardship. Saying such a poor theologically constructed statement gives no regard to the free will of others and disregards the nature of choice. In addition, it displays so a lack of understanding of how God created an orderly universe. If you walk outside in the cold, and walk around naked for hours, you are most likely going to get sick. Some people die from such unfortunate decisions. God didn’t make you walk outside naked, but some blame God for the cold and a world of gems if that person were to die. God didn’t make George Zimmerman shoot Trayvon Martin.

On the other side of this argument, people lament God’s inaction: “Why did God let my grandmother die in a car accident?” We become angry at God because God “failed” to act. God performs miracles for others, why not me? To that question, no one has an answer. However, if God were to intervene everyone time we asked him to, we see a world like in the movie “Bruce Almighty”. In that movie, Bruce gave so many people lottery winnings that inflation rose. Cause and effect. If God answered every prayer (the way we want), then you would not be able to get to work on time because God would have to prevent thousands of car accidents by making cars not start or traffic lights work in erratic ways.

For George Zimmerman, saying that it was God’s plan that Trayvon Martin died is a half-hearted attempt to not claim responsibility for his actions. He played a role in Martin’s death whether justified or not. In life, we cannot escape responsibility for the things we regret. Deep down inside, Zimmerman is in a world of hurt and he does the world no good by acting like he isn’t responsible.

Alan Rudnick

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Alan Rudnick has been featured on television, radio, print, and social media and serves as the Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Ballston Spa, NY. He has quickly established himself as a leader, blogger, and commentator in the areas of faith, Christianity, ministry, and social media. He is the author of, “The Work of the Associate Pastor”, Judson Press. Alan’s writing has been featured with the Albany Times Union, The Christian Century, Associated Baptist Press, and The Fund of Theological Education.

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  • Nickela

    Great points in this article! We do have to take responsibility for our actions.  Even though God can “use” these situations for good, I disagree that “it’s His plan”.  Instead, these matters are a result of our plan (and the execution of such plan) and we have take responsibility.

  • Lawrence Dalton

    Why did God not stop Trayvon Martin from attacking the smaller, George Zimmerman?  Why did Trayvon Martin’s father abandon him to his own devices that night and go out to dinner and cocktails with his live-in girlfriend?  Why didn’t Trayvon Martin obey the rules of conduct expected of high school students and not get expelled for misconduct and sent 250 miles away for direction from his absentee father? 

    Mr Zimmerman’s primary error was being a concerned, law abiding citizen interested in protecting his own community who was viciously attacked by an unknown, suspicious person until the father decided to find out where his son was the next day, not late the night before when his son left and failed to return…

    • DorisPage

       So, he suppose to die for that…You are a sick man….just by reading your comment…I can tell you have done everything in the book so do you think someone should shoot you

    • Sir Charles

      Are you an idiot sir? Zimmerman has a long record of illegal behaviour and assaulting women. Let us face it Zimmerman was and simply an AH and clearly you are two, the two of you should get to-gather and have a love fest.

  • bgal4

    what kind of a pastor does not understand the concept that life delivers a burden that is so challenging that people turn to their beleif and trust in the Lord.

    you should be ashamed for your purposeful manipulation of the statements made by GZ.

    Obviously you have swallowed the innocent Martin narrative without ever considering the facts.

    The legal case is a self defense matter.

    The court of public confusion is the inability to stand up to riot ideology and racial grievance politics.

    What kind of a pastor has no compassion for a religious man whose family is in dire circumstances because he fought back during a deadly assault. 

    And don’t try that innocent TM crap with me, I have been on the ground kicked in the head by a angry aggression black teen, and I am in my 50s. The only reason GZ pulled his gun was no one helped him and the cops did not show up very quickly.

    TM doubled back to attack. End of story.

    If anyone want to second guess with what ifs, maybe Martins parents might consider supervising a teenager with a history of causing trouble, suspended for the 3rd time in one year and for the max day allowed means he was a troubled teen.  Letting him go out to do drugs and assault people is the only reason he is dead.

  • Sir Charles

    Let us get real here. Do you really beleive Zimmerman beleives in God and is really a God fearing man? It was as much as a God’s plan as was the recent war by Bush in Iraq and killing of 6 million Jews by Hitler. Is that why most of the religious community remained silent when Hitler carried out the killings and hundreds of thousand people died in Iraq. Atleast Zimmerman will have his day in court, Hitler is dead and Bush is mocking us from his ranch knowing that he will never be brought to justice.