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Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Another mass shooting: where was God?

Another mass killing. I don't know what to think when I see stuff like this in the news, not to mention the news of the plague in Madagascar or the suffering of the Rohingya. I guess a lot of people pray. There are a post at America magazine on this ... There’s no problem with praying after a mass shooting—but what does that prayer look like? ... which seems to say that prayer is a way for us to figure out what we, not God, should do to stop terrible things like this.

My prayers are different. I always want to know why God is letting this stuff happen, because the God of the bib;e is an intervening God. Here's a bit from a post by NT scholar Ben Witherington from a few years ago about The Shack ...

[...] The Bible is all about divine intervention. God is always intruding into our affairs, like a good parent should when his children are as wayward as we are. Is it really the case that God never rescues us against our will? Does God stand idly by, when a normal human parent would leap in and grab the child about to step out onto a highway and be smashed by a sixteen wheeler? .....

[W]hen you once allow that God is busy working all things together for good for those who love Him, whether they realize it or not, then it becomes perfectly clear, as also in cases like when God flattened Paul on the road to Damascus that there are times when God doesn’t wait on our permission to do things on our behalf, and in various cases does things that would have been against our wills at the time. And herein lies the mystery—God, by grace both gives humans limited freedom, but is prepared to intervene and make corrections, redirections etc. for God is free as well, and there is something more important than human beings ‘having it their independent way’ and that is rescuing them. A drowning person can’t save themselves, they require a radical rescue—but how they respond to that rescue thereafter, whether in loving gratitude or with a bad attitude—well that’s another matter and involves human volition.

In other words, the answer to the question of why tragedy happens in the world is not just because God won’t violate our wills, or just because our wills are bent and fallen, and we are the orchestrators of our own tragedies. It’s far more complicated than that ..........

It seems to me that a lot of Christians, perhaps those who have had prayers go unanswered, have revised the traditional view of God, made him into a bystander instead of someone who is involved in our lives. They have good excuses, the free will argument leading the list, but I think the biggest reason is that they are willing to sacrifice an interactive God in order to keep their belief in a good God who cares.

I can't say I have it figured out myself. I still pray for help but all the time I'm doing it I feel conflicted. My prayers are really arguments to a God I'm not sure exists about why he *should* intervene, even while I doubt he will ... I mean, come on, a lot of awful stuff happens on God's watch, and will continue to, I expect. What I don't understand is how other Christians keep on sending their "thoughts and prayers" to the victims, believing this will help.


Anonymous Dyan said...

Hi Crystal,

James 5:16 says, "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." I think this is why some people send thoughts and prayers. But, I know there are a lot of people who "send" them because it makes them feel like they're doing something in a situation that would otherwise leave them feeling helpless.

I have several stories from my life where I know God intervened. The most dramatic one to me was when my husband and I were stopped at a red light and the car behind us drove into the back of us at 60 km/hr (about 37 mile/hr) - the attending police office told us that's what the speedometer was stuck at. Our car was severely damaged, almost to the point of being written off but we were perfectly fine, including my unborn daughter. The most amazing thing to me was our dog though. He was loose in the back and I imagined the worst - when I turned around to try to find him he was standing on the back seat and it appeared he was being held there! He was happy and fine - no injuries! My husband and I are both absolutely sure it was an angel holding him in place! Another interesting note - my husband told me afterwards that he had felt God warning him not to go that way but he ignored that little voice. God still protected us even though hubby didn't heed the warning. Yes, we had to deal with a damaged car but God gave us patience and strength to get through that ordeal too. I know that doesn't answer why God doesn't always intervene (it's something I ask him about too) but please don't give up on talking to God!

6:01 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Dyan :) I do still talk to God. I pray daily for my loved ones and the cats and for help with various things. Also I tell him that I'm not sure he exists anymore. Weirdly, it's hard for me to give up talking to God.

There have been times when it seemed like God has maybe helped me, but I don't understand why he would help me and let terrible things happen to others, or why he would help me with some things but not with other things. Maybe this is where trust comes in, but I guess I don't have that.

9:23 AM  
Anonymous Dyan said...

Hi Crystal,

I've been pondering your post for the last couple of days, it really hit home for me because it's something I've struggled with too. I think you're right in that this is where trust comes in. It's ok if you don't feel like you have it now - trust can be rebuilt over time. Generally when doubts plague me I go back to the beginning, which for me is experiencing creation and the magnificence of it, then remembering the blessings I have now. This, along with some well loved scripture usually is enough to bring peace.

I don't mean to be preachy and hope I haven't been. Just want to reach out with some internet hugs if you want them!

6:29 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Dyan, I appreciate you talking to me about this. Probably part of my problem with trust is that I didn't grow up in a traditional chuch-going family and didn't really give believing a chance until a few years ago. It's not so much that I lost trust as that I haven't ever really gotten there yet. Still a work in progress :)

9:56 AM  

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