Monday Musings for December 4, 2017
My parents (especially my mom) taught me to pray. My bedtime prayer ritual involved naming every member of my family. I don’t think I was told this explicitly, but I grew up believing that by mentioning each of the people I loved by name, I was ensuring that God would watch over them and keep them all safe. If left out one name, that one person would probably have something bad happen to them that very next day. My prayers were that powerful, so I grew up believing!
I no longer believe that. But my daily prayer still includes a list of family members. Not that God needs me to tell him how to do his job. It’s more a matter of holding each of these special people in my heart and expressing to God how much I love them and want the best for them.
I mention more than just family members by name. I also pray for you, especially when I am aware that you are going through a difficult time. But again, it’s not a matter of ordering God around. God is in control of this universe, not me. And that’s a very good thing.
So what about those times when horrible things happen to the best of people? Maybe we have even prayed for that person by name. Prayed for their safety. Why couldn’t an all- powerful God at least answer that prayer?
That question comes up over and over and over. Not just for us, but for all believers who have ever lived.
Here is a recent example. Bob and Cathy Rogers are working in Swaziland with orphaned children. They are there because they believe God has called them to this work. They gave up a comfortable retirement and they have had no regrets. Not one. They have been having the time of their lives.
So on Wednesday, November 15 Cathy was painting a classroom. The rubber, non-skid footings on her extension ladder were resting on a floor with a high-gloss polish . . .. You know the rest. Cathy will be OK, but her injuries are many, are painful, and will take a long time to heal.
Why, God?? Of all the people doing your work, surely Cathy Rogers was near the top of your list!! Couldn’t you have done something to keep those non-skid footings from skidding? Just that once?
A lot of people do not believe in God, or no longer believe in God, because of things like this. It’s the question that won’t go away. If God is truly infinite, in both love and in power, why doesn’t God protect us from harm?
You might even be expecting me to give you the answer. Sorry.
Lewis Smedes wrote a great chapter on forgiving God. I’ll send it to any of you who ask for it. But I can no longer read the wonderful things he wrote without the knowledge that he too fell off a ladder. (It happens to the best of us.) And in his case, he did not survive.
I’m glad God established the law of gravity. It would cause a lot of problems if that law ever were repealed and replaced. And the way God’s universe seems to work is that we don’t break laws of nature. They break us.
Still I will pray. I heard someone say once, “Faith is not about everything turning out OK. Faith is about being OK no matter how things turn out.” I like that. It’s not the answer to that age-old question, but it’s good enough to keep me praying.
PS Would you be so kind as to send Cathy Rogers a message of encouragement right now? Before you get distracted with anything else and forget to do it. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org . Thank you.