Whether you are a believer in God or not, have you ever at some point in your life prayed for something? Have you had the experience in a moment—any moment, no matter how fleeting, or whether you continued to believe in such a moment or not—that God granted your prayer? For many of us, this creates one of the biggest God-problems of all. Here’s what I mean.
Recently my wife had a tooth problem. I care about my wife, and personally I believe God cares about her too. So I prayed the problem would resolve itself without major complications. Now let’s just suppose that all of a sudden all of Linda’s pain went away and her tooth was a good as new with no further dental attention or procedures needed. Great, right?
But… what kind of God answers that prayer, which in the grand scheme of thing is relatively minor, and lets a starving child die? How would such a Being fit any of our definitions of good? I benefit. I gain. I receive. But what of the person whose plight is so much worse than mine who does not? It is problems like this that lead JB Phillips to write,
Many men and women today are living, often with inner dissatisfaction, without any faith in God at all. This is not because they are particularly wicked or selfish or, as the old-fashioned would say, “godless,” but because they have not found with their adult minds a God big enough to “account for” life, big enough to “fit in with” the new scientific age, big enough to command their highest admiration and respect, and consequently their willing co-operation.
Is there a way out of problems like these? Can the issues behind them really be resolved with any kind of integrity and intellectual honesty?
That's what we are asking in our current sermon series at St. Matt's. And this week we ask one of the toughest questions of all. Where is God in the Holocaust, the killing fields, the genocides, the terrorism and religious violence of our age?
Oh, and by the way: my wife needed a root canal...