No Good Answers

On this side of things, reading people’s posts about all the little things “God” does for them, like make all the lights green so they can get to work when they are late, or “healing” them from a cold, in answer to their prayers, it looks, well, weird.

It looks weird because of the great evils in the world, the death and disease that surround us, and yet “God” has no ability to answer the prayers of, say, millions of his people who have been praying for abortion to end.

It looks weird because 21,000 people die each day from hunger or hunger related issues, yet we are thanking “God” for a promotion at work.

It looks weird because one person is murdered every minute, yet we are thanking “God” for our kid passing his geometry test.

The reasons we give for why “God” allows such evil while essentially giving us crumbs make little sense. The idea that I happen to live in a house because I’m holier than my Syrian counterpart who lives in a tent in a refugee camp? Or the belief that I have a job because “God” is blessing me while people in South Sudan starve? 

Of course, there are more disturbing reasons given than those. “God is punishing those people.” “God is teaching them endurance in their faith.” “God is testing them to see if their faith is real.” Or, my old favorite excuse, “God has given us to help those people.”

None of those make sense anymore. The idea that there is a “God” who can create an entire universe but cannot answer the prayers of his people who are begging to be saved from death, enslavement, etc…? It doesn’t make any sense.

As I look back on my own life, these questions are just as serious. If there’s a “God” and this “God” is love as we are often told, then why does he give children to people he knows will abuse them, and then do nothing for those children, millions of whom end up dead? 

Still haven’t found any good answers for this, just excuses for a “God” that is either cruel or impotent. But you’re welcome to do your best.

3 thoughts on “No Good Answers

  1. Hi Sara, I’ll warn you this might get a bit long… not that I’m known for lengthy comments or anything 🙂
    First of all, I love that you’re sharing honestly about this. I know you’ve felt before that people don’t want you to question things. I think if we have questions we should be able to talk openly about them and work them through. The questions you raise here are great and make me consider my own views on things, which I see as a good thing.
    I’d like to share some thoughts if that’s ok, though I definitely don’t claim to have all the answers, and I hope you understand from my blog posts and comments in the past that I completely believe we can disagree on things and still be friends. I don’t want to argue with you but I thought I’d add some thoughts to the conversation, which I’m happy to discuss further with you if that is any help at all.
    I don’t believe that God is unable to answer prayers or stop suffering, and I think some of the reasons you have been given by people for why God allows suffering are rubbish. You just have to read the book of Job to see that we can’t assume suffering is down to God punishing people or that they somehow deserve it. As far as I can see, saying that someone deserves suffering, and that we’re better or more blessed by God if we’re not experiencing that suffering, is not a true Christian belief at all. I know some would hold to it but I really don’t see how the Bible backs that up.
    I think a lot of it comes down to the fact that God has given humans free will. People choose to do things like murder or abuse and I think it breaks God’s heart because it is not how he created the world to be, but we have choice about our actions and those actions have consequences, for us and for others.
    I know that doesn’t completely answer the question of why he allows it, how he can stand to see people suffering and not step in if he is able, but all I would say is he could have just abandoned us in the mess the world has become and left us to get on with it.
    Instead he sent Jesus, who experienced intense suffering himself, and who died to deal with sin so that there is hope for an eternal future that is free from pain and suffering and death.
    Life on earth is never going to be perfect or free from suffering (God never promises that it will be) so right now there’s the tension of living in a broken world, but with that hope.
    If you’re interested in reading more I’d highly recommend a book called “God On Mute” by Pete Greig. He talks about the question of why God’s answers to prayer seem so arbitrary sometimes and why, if God answers prayers about little things, does he not deal with much bigger situations where people are suffering. I found it really helpful.
    I’m going to stop now as this is already far too long but thank you for going there with the difficult questions. I think too many Christians avoid them but they are very real and important questions which we should face up to.

    1. Thanks for your reply. I probably cannot read the book you suggest at this time. I’ve read a considerable number of arguments regarding why an omnipotent, all-powerful God does or doesn’t answer prayers, and I’ve faced enough accusations about myself over why my prayers are unanswered to last a lifetime. The truth of the matter is that belief in any god no longer makes any sense to me. The excuse of “free will” being why a god would stand by and watch a child murdered or a woman raped no longer holds any level of sway for me. I have seen enough evil in my life to be convinced that prayer is something that we delude ourselves with. It gives people a comfort because we’ve been convinced it should give us a comfort. Each day I face anxiety at levels that make it almost impossible to function. There is no god who cares about that, or the effect my anxiety has on my children. There are barely any people who care. Our minds desire to have some sort of thing that is bigger than us so we will feel safe in this world. So we sit and pray and hope for the best while thousands of people die each day and we make up excuses for our chosen deity. Keeping religious laws helped none of those people, just as they never helped me. I realize there are people who feel as if they do, I once thought that way as well, until I took a real hard look at all that I’d been taught, and all that the bible actually says, and realized that this just isn’t a real thing. When I examined other popular religions, I found the same excuses for their gods, I found the same admonitions for obedience, I found a lot of similar teachings. As I read more history and the way the bible came to us…and I read these from religious sources, people who still believe in god, it has become very obvious that something is amiss. The more I study religious sources, the less I can believe any religion at all. While I’m not a nihilist at all, I do not believe that there is a god, because if there is we must admit that he is not good because no good person would, if he or she had it in their power, allow the level of evil which exists.

      1. As I say, I don’t want to argue with you. I don’t agree with your conclusions but I like and respect you and I’m so sorry for all the evil you have experienced and the anxiety and pain you continue to suffer. I’m especially sorry you have felt accused and that the suffering you have endured or the unanswered prayers are because it’s somehow your fault. I don’t believe it is at all.

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