The following questions often lurk in the believer’s mind, especially at times like these when we are dealing with the COVID-19 virus.
Over my time as a minister, people whispered these questions to me, often ashamed to put them into words. I’m articulating them in hopes of engaging their thinking.
I’m not asking anyone to justify their theology to me. I don’t need to have answers to these questions anymore. However, I’m happy to have a discussion and I promise to reply back gently and genuinely. I’ll monitor the comments and omit any that are hostile or disrespectful.
Why does God allow any disease to afflict us?
I used to deflect this one by saying God isn’t really doing this to us, but that in some way we’re doing it to ourselves. But if God is Lord of everything, doesn’t that make him responsible for everything including the COVID-19 virus?
Why does he indiscriminately hurt everyone?
Some say sickness is punishment for specific sins that some people are committing. For instance, it’s popular to blame the LGBT, saying we are all suffering for their sinful lifestyle. It’s an ugly accusation, and it makes no sense. Why wouldn’t God specifically target a group with whom he is angry?
Others say we’re being punished for the general sinfulness of the world, but that’s not really fair, either. Some are worse than others and some are more innocent.
I know–one sin is as bad as another in the Christian religion (James 2:10). But c’mon! We all know that isn’t so. Angry babies aren’t as guilty as bank robbers.
How does our suffering prove God’s love for us?
Some refer to Hebrews 12:6, saying that God isn’t out to hurt us but in fact is disciplining us because he loves us so much.
Really? Abusive parents say the same thing when they beat their children.
How does allowing us to suffer reveal God’s mercy?
Many say our suffering is a natural consequence of our actions. We bring it on ourselves and we have to get ourselves out of it. The babies have to suffer right along with the bank robbers because we brought it on ourselves collectively.
So… God won’t help us out with this because it’s our fault? Isn’t he supposed to be merciful? Isn’t he interested in “saving us from our sins?” When my kids were about to hurt themselves seriously, I intervened. The heavenly father doesn’t do that, too?
Is God just… mean?
Could it be that God doesn’t really love us? Is he playing with us for his amusement and then demanding us to believe he isn’t mean, but in fact is loving and kind.? Again, I refer back to the comparison of an abusive parent.
Is God limited in his power?
Maybe God does care for us but he’s not infinitely powerful, as he’s purported to be. After the creation, the plagues, and the resurrection, maybe he tapped out and now we’re on our own.
Anytime we get this far in the conversation, someone wants to say that God’s ways are not our ways and God’s thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9), meaning that we’re not smart enough to comprehend the ways of God.
You’re telling me that God, who supposedly had a whole Bible to reveal himself to us, whose son spent all that time teaching about the kingdom of heaven, has failed in the attempt to communicate? Isn’t he great enough to overcome our weaknesses?
Is it wrong to ask questions?
Now we’re at the point where someone says I should have faith in God’s power and good intentions. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to question God. Such questions create doubt. We should not “allow Satan a foothold….”
Really? No questions at all? We’re all sort of an interested party here when it comes to COVID-19. If he’s doing this to us or simply allowing this to happen when he could stop it, is it fair for him to get angry when we ask questions?
Let’s just concede that I’m being deliberately dense, that I can’t see the truth because I don’t want to see it, and I would be much better off if I accepted God’s will without question.
Is that working for you? Are you relieved of fear? Are you experiencing that peace that passes understanding?
If you say yes, I don’t believe you.
I spent thirty-five years trying to allay the fear and anxiety that people in my churches experienced. I tried to explain away the inconsistencies. I tried to help them feel better with the blessed assurance that Jesus was theirs. But it was a temporary fix, at best.
Why spend time praying to a God who doesn’t answer back, who doesn’t explain himself, and who doesn’t intervene like He promises? Why sing to him and dedicate group praise to him? What exactly has he done to deserve any of our attention as a time when we need each other so much?
8 thoughts on “Will God Answer for His Actions?”
Right on! Thank you!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Interesting write. I’ll be interested in hearing your answers to “Final Questions.”
As an aside: I obviously came up in a different… climate, topology, universe (theologically speaking)… than you. So some of the pat answers and horrid responses you rail against are foreign to my personal experiences as a pastor. I have considered starting a discussion — a written one — but I’m not certain 1. you would care to do that; 2. that I could remain faithful to it. Some of this has become too distant for me; I have been out of the pulpit longer than I was in it, and the axes I ground are for the most part of different material.
Still and all, I enjoy perusing your writing from time to time. Peace.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I was contemplating those same questions only yesterday and many times before. We lost our daughter last year, and I so cannot be comforted by a God who just let it happen. None of the explanations Christians give have been in any way satisfying.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I’m so very sorry that you lost your daughter. 😦
Thank you for your condolences.
I wrote this after reading some thoughts on God as an abuser.
Actually the god the bible describes fits scarily with the description of the qualities of an abuser in an abusive relationship. Abusers initially promise love and protection that gets the victim into the relationship. Abusers are jealous and possessive, make the victims afraid of what will be done to them or their loved ones if they don’t comply with the abusers every wish (which sometimes the victim has to guess). Abusers demand that they have total control. The abusers insist that the victims are deserving of ill treatment and any good thing the abusers do is undeserved benevolence, the abusers claim to hurt the victims for their own good. Abusers insist victims have no value outside the abusive relationship and the victims are to blame for any violence committed in the relationship because they did the wrong thing (however unknowingly). The victims have to continually beg the abusers to consider their needs. The abusers use the victims for their own ends and often the victims are happy to be used, even interpreting it as a sign of acceptance.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Ooooo. You struck a cord bro. Back in 1998 while a student pastor and seminarian my own faith was rocked when one day, during a class where we were studying Job, the question came to me “Can I be a better Father than God?” Some of your questions and conclusions here were very similar to mine.
Brother David, I just started preaching and teaching about the power of LAMENT. Your article here is to me a wonderful example of a contemporary Lamentation. The 80 series of the Psalms are full of Lament. Even as Ive been rereading the Matthian Passion week texts my eyes and ears were open to the “book end” texts between the Cloak/Palm Sunday text in Matthew 21 and The Master of The Way Lament in 23:37. How contemplating crisis circumstances that continue unabated are understood through Lamenting. Questioning God and even crying out “My God My God why have you forsaken me” during excruciating pain and death and humiliation and abandonment is actually Healthy? Lamentation is asking “why” and not finding an answer. Giving permission to and even leading as a Lamenter is so important. It’s actually a sign of faith. And your article herein is a perfect example of that struggle. Thanks.
In your comment to Jac’s comment, you referenced the Book of Job and the questions he had for God. The end of the story always troubled me in that God challenged Job, saying, “Do you dare question me?” and Job said he would just shut his mouth. Yet, many theologians such as yourself applaud Job’s questioning, saying it is a part of the faith journey.
For me, the questions showed a journey out of faith.