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Monday, 14 March 2011

"What kind of God let's that happen?"


I love talking about my faith and I am always open to discussion on the subject. As I have said in a number of posts, I learn through discussions like this. Recently I have been discussing my beliefs with a close relative who is not a Christian. He is not in a good place emotionally or generally, and it breaks my heart to see him struggle and suffer, when I know he needs God in his life. Well, we all do, but some people just seem to be more needful than others if you know what I mean...
Anyway, it's interesting, as we have always had farily fesity 'debates' over the years, and this is something I know I cannot be too forceful on. He has to accept God for himself, I cannot 'persuade' him into believing, it has to be his choice. He raises lots of questions and is obviously 'seeking' but there are some things I just cannot answer. The age old question came out recently: 'what kind of God lets that happen...' usually brought up after a  tragedy, personal or otherwise.  Of course this time it was in relation to the earthquake/tsunami in Japan. 'What kind of God would let 10,000 people die in one go like that, just wiped out...? You can't tell me that they all deserved it' (which of course I would never say anyway)  and then 'if you really believe that your God can step into any situation, why didn't he step in then?'
It's THE question isn't it? How does one respond to that? Particularly to a non-believer. I can't quote scripture as he doesn't recognise it (as in he doesn't recognise the bible as the word of God, he just thinks a 'moral code'..).
And the thing is I'm not sure how I feel about this question, and so I have no idea how to respond. I think I personally have got to a point, Job like, where I understand that God can intervene but doesn't always. That there will always be some mysteries, I am not God and therefore I cannot begin to imagine how or why He makes the decisions he does. 
That said, I do have a couple of stock answers to this question, such as 'I believe God is sovereign and can intervene in all situations, but sometimes choses not to'. But then that just provokes an angry response such as 'what kind of God picks and choses like that...' Or the other is that 'we live in a  fallen world and therefore sometimes that devil makes 'shit happen'.' Or another is that 'we have freedom of choice and our decisions sometimes cause stuff to happen, God cannot intervene in every situation or he would be a dictator'. But these do feel like pathetic responses in the face of what happened last Friday.  In truth I have no idea why God would let something like that happen, to wipe out so many people in one go like that. I cannot begin to understand so how can I explain to someone else?
So what can one say in the face of tragedy? How can one explain why God would step into one situation and not another? How can one respond after so many tragic deaths like last week, or even just one tragic death? - to a mother whose 7 year old son has been killed in an accident? or to the husband whose wife is dying of cancer in her 30s? or to the woman saw her own brother die in the sea? What can one say?

7 comments:

GOD thinker said...

All I know is that one day we will have a perfect world. He will come again and wipe every tear. There will be no more mourning, suffering or disease. The first time He came to make a way. The next time He will come in power and make all things new. As believers we can look forward to it and hopefully share our hope with others.

Thecurateswife said...

Having lived with a husband and 2 thinking sons who were not Christians, I regularly tossed around this subject. I reached the conclusion that God gave us free will. Just as He does not tell me what to wear each morning, or which job to do, He will walk beside us and guide us in whatever circumstances we find ourselves or we have put ourselves. But we have to choose to listen. Our world has many natural phenomena - the side of an active volcano and the river flood lands have the most fertile soil - people choose to live there, we build nuclear power plants and cities in known earthquake areas, we build fishing villages close to the sea and in coves rather than on the higher land even though we know tsunami are a possible risk in an earthquake area. Equally, illness, disease and accidents are part of a developing world, not pleasant or comfortable to live with, but we must learn from them so many things. There is enough food to feed the world but people starve. God will walk beside us as we learn compassion. I listened to a sermon on choices on Sunday, from Adam and Eve to Jesus being tempted - we are given choices too. And we can choose who we listen to for advice.

Red said...

Thanks guys, lots to think about there! Curates wife there are some great words there, thank you. Choice is the key thing isn't it? I did say to my relative, if God didn't give us free will he would be a dictator and that defeats the whole point. Perhaps I just need to word what I say differently!! In a way it is a bit arrogant of us to expect Him to step in - he gave us this beautiful world and we are the ones mucking it up...

Phaedrus said...

Where DOES god intervene though? Does he? The response I usually get is: "God works in mysterious ways," or that, "we cannot know the plans of god." But didn't he want us to know his plan? Isn't that why the bible was written? So god wouldn't be a mystery? Because he wanted worshipers?

Another answer is that divine intervention on such a large scale would leave no room for free will to choose to believe in god..
- But didn't god and jesus perform miracles of this sort all the time according to the bible?? Did that take away the apostles' free will to believe? In most of these cases the miracles were performed to prove their divinity to their followers. Even doubting Thomas was allowed to see the risen jesus and touch his wounds to confirm his doubts.

You would think that if god intervened at least some of the time, we could come up with easy and unambiguous examples. here is an interesting quote I took used in one of my blog posts:

"What we find is that God never answers impossible prayers - even if the prayers are incredibly worthy. For example:
• Pray to God to levitate a car and hold it floating in the air for ten minutes. It will not happen, even if you are praying to levitate the car because a drunk driver has run over a college freshman and she is currently pinned under one of the wheels.
• Pray to God to let you fly through the air like Superman. It will not happen, even if you are praying to fly like superman so that you can rise up to a tenth story window and save two children from their burning apartment.
• Pray to God to fill your basement with $100 million in small unmarked bills. It will not happen, even if you plan to donate the $100 million that God gives you to a worthy and deserving charity.
• Pray to God to restore the amputated limbs of a deserving, penitent believer. It will not happen, no matter how sincere you are in your prayer.
None of these prayers will ever be answered. We know that with certainty. If they were answered, we would see people flying through the air like Superman on the evening news. We would see amputated limbs regenerating all the time. Every Christian charity would be fully funded and there would not be 10 million children starving to death every year"

Phaedrus said...

When it comes to things like the Tsunami, we can predict with 100% accuracy that god will not intervene in anyway. Why is this? Didn't jesus say our prayers will be answered? as detailed in Matthew 7:7, Matthew 17:20, Matthew 21:21, Mark 11:24, John 14:12-14, Matthew 18:19 and James 5:15-16, etc., etc…?

Just curious as to your thoughts on this.

Red said...

Hey Phaedrus :)
Most of what you said in your first 2 paras makes sense to me. If we didn't have free will God would be a dictator, which is entirely not the point. He wants a relationship with us like a Father to his children and not a dictator to his subjects.
I personally believe he does intervene in seemingly impossible situations. There is plenty of testimony out there for people being healed and the like. I think your examples are a bit extreme (and I do see why you wrote them that way), but it does go back to the free will thing. God may not make someone fly into a building to rescue 2 children, but maybe he gives the firefighters extra strength to get in there in doule quick time. Perhaps he doesn't fill a basement with cash but I have heard of many examples where money and equipment have been supplied for charities in seemingly hopeless situations, after prayer. Look up Heidi Baker, she's a Christian working in Mozambique I believe, and has seen some amazing stuff.

I want to give this some more thought, so I am going to think on this over the weekend and will post on the subject separately, particularly in relation to the scriptures quoted.
red x

jouish said...
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