Sunday, March 8, 2015

Is God Doing His Job?

Some people have turned away from God because they feel He isn't doing His "job" of perfectly orchestrating the Universe.

Recently, actor and atheist Stephen Fry attacked God for not curing cancer, and for allowing suffering. And a prominent Biblical scholar turned away from his faith in God because of this "problem of suffering," by which he means that God "allows" suffering, pain, abuse, hatred, wars and other calamities.

People have long blamed God for causing storms and tidal waves, or for not curing all diseases, or for allowing children to die, or for allowing a spouse or relative to be killed in a car accident or plane crash. Others blame God because they are not prosperous enough, or because they have abusive spouses, or for their dead-end job, etc, etc, etc.

But that's not what God does (even if it's what ancient people - pagan and Jew alike - thought God/or "the gods" SHOULD be doing.)

Jesus teaches us that it rains on the good and the bad alike. He doesn't promise prosperity for those who follow his message of repentance and righteousness, but instead, we may receive persecution and hatred from others.

Many religious people today cite God's "promises" as if they were going to be angry if He doesn't comply with them. But this is backwards. And it's not a healthy relationship to have with our Creator.

Moses in Deuteronomy notes that we can't bribe God with words or sacrifices to get Him to do our bidding. The Hebrew Prophets say God isn't in the storm, and in fact, God isn't there to manipulate the Universe for our benefit at all.

So, there's a far more healthy way to view both God and our suffering.

Jesus demolishes the idea that God is partial and uses Nature to punish us, as if we somehow bring Nature's wrath upon us by our behavior. He was asked by the disciples, "'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him." (John 9:2-3)

In the Book of Luke, Jesus uses two examples of disasters - a tower falling in Siloam and Pilate "mingling blood" with the Jews' sacrifices - to dispel the myth that our sins cause disasters (13:1-5.)

And these words of Jesus tell us all we need to know about the cause of natural disasters, birth defects, and all of the things with which we struggle in our lives.

James, the brother of Jesus, puts suffering into perspective, saying that suffering should be met with JOY, because it brings spiritual perfection by enduring it (James 1:2.) Why, then would we even blame God for "allowing" suffering?

So where IS God, exactly, amid all of this pain and suffering, and what is His "job?" James tells us God sends wisdom whenever we ask it from Him (1:5.) Maybe we should prayerfully do just that before raising our fists in accusation against God.

The fact is, God does not leave us, and is never far from us,  even when we leave Him. God is here for us every second of every day - in the midst of every prayer - ready to fill us with His Spirit, His Wisdom and His Love, and give us peace and strength for whatever comes our way. God's not in the storm, He's in the still, quiet voice after the storm (1 Kings 19:12.)

"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10.)

We shouldn't be asking God where HE was when the storms hit, or when tragedy befalls a family, or when our neighbors are hungry, ill-clothed or homeless. We should ask ourselves: WHERE ARE WE? "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you," says James (4:8.) The well-known Psalm says "I will fear no evil, for you are with me," (23:4.)

And as we comfort them and fill their needs, we should encourage them to seek the tender, loving arms of God, our eternal Father in Heaven. God's "job" is to help us become spiritually complete.

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