by Jason Elliot
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How come God is the first in the firing line when things go wrong, or don’t go the way we expected? Mankind will always pull out the same old questions; where was God? Why did God let this happen? Why doesn’t God help? Why doesn’t God fix it? And often the statement follows; there can’t be a God because if there was he would have intervened.
These are all valid questions, yet they are fundamentally flawed, as is the last statement. They are all perspective driven – spoken from our perspective, in our eyes the victims of a lack of intervention by the higher power that we demand usage of so regularly. How often are these questions spoken with a broad mind, seeking Gods perspective on the situation? I would expect the answer would be “very rarely”.
Isn’t it amazing how Mankind boasts of holding all of the power, (we are the intelligent species after all), and indulges in greed and immorality, yet when push comes to shove, blame is redirected away from Mankind; we have been granted the gifts of free will and choice, but when we stuff it up... its Gods fault! Mankind prefers to continually deny that God even exists, yet all of a sudden when sin takes a hold and the results are catastrophic, the finger is pointed at someone or something that supposedly doesn’t exist – God!
We are so fixated on ourselves and our own wellbeing as humans, that so often we view the world and our life within it through selfish goggles. We demand of God answers to prayer in order to fulfil a path according to our own goals. We push God aside when we don’t require Him, and demand His blessing(s) when we want something. We are foolish men and woman so self absorbed by our own existence that we lose sight of our entire meaning...a life driven by Gods’ perspective! We don’t appreciate that God cannot answer all of our prayers, just the way we would like them answered, and in the timing that suits us best. How could we when life is only viewed through our narrow perspective?
I was listening to a guy speak recently; he was about 30 years my senior. As he came to the lectern and sprawled a library of books and notes upon its surface, I thought to myself, this should be exciting – NOT! He looked to be (in my opinion) old school and I didn’t expect to get too much enjoyment from his presentation. Within minutes he had me captured and he said something as part of an illustration that I had never thought of before. He said “God cannot answer everybody’s prayers – it’s impossible!” Now when you’ve grown up with songs and verses that state ‘all things are possible through Him’, you begin to wonder how much longer it will be before this guy gets thrown out of the Church! However, he went on to say this...” the reason it is impossible is because sometimes it is simply not physically possible” he continues...”let’s say one of you prayed that the Hurricanes would win the Super 14 final, and another one of you prayed that the Crusaders would win the final – somebody’s going to luck out, because both teams cannot win!” This guy was so correct, it is impossible for both teams to win the final – there must be a winner and there must be a loser, and I think we all accept that God can determine who can win the match (although I’d question whether it’s at the top of his list of prayer answering). There’s nothing supernatural or extraordinary about this, it simple logic and holds a large practicality component. I think it would be fair to say that a prayer of such content could only be prayed with narrow perspective, and certainly wouldn’t be prayed with Gods perspective in mind or even sought.
So back to the original questions and in particularly the statement listed after the questions – There’s no God...
I have heard this statement spoken with conviction around 25 times in the last year. It was used in discussions surrounding the Bombing of London in WWII, the 9-11 attacks, the pike river mine disaster, and in relation to scientific ‘evidence’ of the ‘big bang theory’. I even heard John Campbell ask the question of a church leader during an interview regarding the Pike river Mine disaster, and her reply confirmed the statement I have used given the same question – “God has given us the gift of choice.” But does this sum it up? Sitting watching that interview, and as a believer hearing those words left me pondering – it’s a bit of a cliché and not a particularity substantial nor helpful answer when presented to a non believer...it really doesn’t have any substance at all without delving deeper in the faith of Christianity and creating a real understanding of what “God has given us the gift of choice” actually means.
If you can picture for a moment a handful of world impacting disasters from the last century, and then imagine divine intervention coming into play in each of those in such a way that disaster and loss of life were evaded. Imagine just for a moment that Gods’ hand had reached out of the sky and grabbed the aircraft before they hit the twin towers, or God reaching out and placing his hand between the Titanic and the iceberg to prevent collision... in your mind, place Gods’ physical hand into any one of the many devastating and horrific tragedies that the world has witnessed and ask yourself “what it would look like?” The truth is that many of those that were witness and unbelievers prior, would almost definitely realise the ‘truth’ and subsequently believe. If billions of people worldwide had witnessed God on television and the internet intervening to avoid the 9-11 tragedy, then again we can assume that more and more people would believe in the truth of God – so why does God not intervene in this way? Why does God not reveal himself in this way?
I believe the answer is simple and can be answered through one simple question...What is the essence of Christianity and the relationship between a believer and God – Faith! Gods function isn’t to prove Himself to us, it is our function to have Faith in Him and His truth. It is our function to believe undeniably that we were manufactured by God for a specific purpose, and through faith, allow him to Reveal himself to us– not prove himself to us. I believe one of the biggest problems in the equation is perspective – it’s a huge variable! Perspective is different from person to person, from believer to believer, from non – believer to non – believer. As a race we have constant differing of perspective; we are in fact hopeless! It is only in God that hopelessness is gone, and that’s the whole point – in our hopelessness we’re supposed to place our faith in Him, and then through revelation he will give us a view of life, of the world, from his perspective – confused? Look at it like this, I heard a story of a guy (I think he was a Pastor), that had very little patience. He was aware of this short coming and prayed to God constantly for more patience. After a time he realised that the more patience he prayed for, the more chaos he was subjected to...Gods’ sense of humour? I prefer to define it as an example of Gods’ perspective, the way in which God sees progress as opposed to the way Man sees progress. God instead of waving His magic wand and leaving things as they are throws us into an environments or situations which condition us toward a particular goal; in the case of this story, the best thing available to teach patience was chaos. A runner training for a marathon does not run only 10 or so kilometres a day in preparation for the main race of 40 odd kilometres, it would be futile; instead the runner runs a greater distance each training session to push the body harder, and to gain a greater fitness and endurance level in order to be in the correct condition for the big race.
I recall over the past year as financial pressure increased for my wife and I through loss of income and unstable economic pressures, the burden of it all; the mortgage being one of the greatest and generally surviving as a family coming in at a close second on the list. We prayed relentlessly for God to ease the burden (or preferably lift the burden). I often pictured in my mind the ridiculous image of a bag of cash falling out the sky, and on occasion I even pictured money trees growing in my back yard. These images were I guess some sort of comfort with a smidgen of ‘wish list’ attached. A few months ago the bank foreclosed on us and took possession of our property – we were gutted! After the tears, heart break, fear and reality checks, I believe God gave me a revelation. All of a sudden one day as I was pondering it all, this came to me... “You asked for the burden to be lifted, and so it has.” Now having my property taken out from under me wasn’t quite what I had in mind, but there’s a truth in the fact that the burden has been lifted, and more so the conditioning, knowledge and experience that we have gained through it cannot be bought with any amount of cash – Gods sense of humour...No, Gods perspective! It certainly brings one to a place where the statement, “be careful what you ask for” becomes a reality!
Next time you hear or are confronted with some of the questions mentioned within, consider Gods perspective in it...as God becomes the target of blame, remember; He is there, in the fire with those that are suffering, hoping, waiting for them to call on him, to draw near to him. As I finish I’ll leave this with you...one of the survivors of the Pike River mine explosion stated in an interview “I prayed to God”, he was not ‘religious’, yet in a moment of hopelessness and fear he turned to a God whom he normally would have denied. God did not intervene and prevent the explosion or the loss of life that day, yet I wonder how many people that normally wouldn’t have had a second thought of God, took a moment and talked to God as he sat beside them...God’s perspective!
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