Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Why doesn't God stop it?

Anthony Walker, an 18-year old college student, promising athlete, and devout Christian, was hacked down and killed by racist, Michael Barton. Where was God?
Dr Victoria Anyetei was stabbed in a frenzied attack in her own car before she left for work. She was a devout Christian. Where was God?
Gerry Tobin, 35, was killed with a shot to the back of the head as he drove his Harley-Davidson in Warwickshire. He was a member of Hell’s Angels but surprisingly according to the Times he was a Christian who used to hold Bible classes and prayer meetings and dreamt of being a missionary. Where was God?
A post mortem at Kingston Mortuary on Friday showed that 51-year old Egyptian born Christian Mrs Leila Rezk died from severe head injuries, and police say the killer may have murdered her with his bare hands. Where was God?

Failed asylum seeker Kamel Bourgass was jailed for 22 years for stabbing to death Detective Constable Stephen Oake. Constable Oake was a keen evangelical Christian. Where was God?

All these took place in peaceful England in recent months; in a supposedly Christian country where persecution is said to be a thing of the past.

It is worse elsewhere: Twenty-three South Korean Christians have been captured by the Taliban; two of them murdered; the rest held hostage.

Where is God in Afghanistan?

In Iraq it is horrible for everyone, but especially so for Christians. Assyrian Christians, who belong to the Syrian Orthodox Church and a number of other small, ancient Churches, worship in (and sometimes speak) the mother tongue of Jesus, Aramaic. The Allied intervention in Iraq has made the plight of the Assyrians infinitely worse but it was under the vile dictatorship of Saddam Husain that the ethnic cleansing of Assyrians began. "Saddam destroyed over 200 of our towns and villages, but with our very limited resources, we have rebuilt hundreds of homes," says a spokesman for the Assyrian Aid Society.
"When they cook a dish in the Middle East, it is traditional to put the meat on top of the rice when they serve it. They kidnapped a woman’s baby in Baghdad, a toddler, and because the mother was unable to pay the ransom, they returned her child – beheaded, roasted and served on a mound of rice. The infant’s crime was to be an Assyrian.
Since the invasion of Iraq, Muslim militants have bombed 28 churches and murdered hundreds of Christians. Last October, Islamists beheaded a priest in Mosul.
Where is God in Iraq?
It is not only Muslims who are terrorizing Christians: On June 2, police found the body of Isaac Raju just outside the state capital of Hyderabad in southern India. The independent church pastor had been missing since May 24. On May 21, the body of K. Daniel, a preacher from Kummarvadi, also was found on the outskirts of Hyderabad. Miliant Hindus are active in several parts of India.
Where is God in India?

Where is the God who could feed five thousand with a few loaves and fishes? Where is the God who walked on water, made the blind man see, turned water into wine, and raised the dead? We know and are convinced that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the God who brought the Children of Israel out of Egypt; the God who defeated the prophets of Baal on Carmel; the God who saved the three lads from the burning fiery furnace in Babylon and stopped the mouths of the lions; the God who raised the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, can work miracles. When He sees His church suffering in this way, why doesn’t He intervene?
In Mark chapter 13 we begin to see an answer. Jesus warned his disciples that something was coming to Jerusalem that would mean ‘days of distress unequaled from the beginning…until now, and never to be equaled again.’
Auschwitz was terrible; the Bible says this was worse. Hiroshima was awful; the Bible says this was worse. The trenches at the Somme and Ypres were horrible; the Bible says this was worse.
In April 66AD the Romans surrounded Jerusalem. The city was full; it was Passover time. Soon food grew short. People were eating dung. If they tried to escape the Romans crucified them. If they surrendered, they were cut open with knives as the Romans searched for hidden jewels and coins. If they stayed put they starved. Women began to kill and cook their children. Over one million one hundred thousand people died. A mere 92,000 survived to be sold into slavery. The city was razed to the ground. Why did God not intervene? But He did. He told them to pray that it would not happen in winter. The Christians prayed and their prayer was answered; it happened in summer. He warned them to flee. The Christians remembered and they fled. There were few if any Christians left in Jerusalem when the Romans arrived. And He shortened the days. There is no objective proof of that. But often when we complain that God has not intervened we may be unaware that He has shortened the days.
God has made an ordered Universe. The Law of Gravity is the Law of God. Boyle’s Law was God’s law first. God is not the Lord of chaos and disorder. The scientist of old used to say that they were ‘thing God’s thoughts after Him’. They would not have got far had He kept changing His mind as the measured.
Miracles are rare – even in Biblical times; just Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Elijah, Elisha, Jonah, Daniel, Jesus and the Apostles. He doesn’t feed our greed; He doesn’t pander to our pride; miracles display the Glory of God.
Despite what the tele-evangelists tell you, things will not be hunky-dory when you come to Christ. You won’t have an easy life if you slip $10 in an envelope and send it to Elmer Gantry Inc. No tented mission will make the blind see, the lame walk or the dead rise. False Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect – if that were possible. No, we are told that in this world we will have tribulation. This wasn’t a lame threat; it was a promise.
We must be prepared for trouble.
First we must understand the Bible. Verse 14: ‘Let the reader understand’ not an aside from Mark, but an instruction from Jesus. God has revealed Himself in scripture. We must read and understand if we want to know His mind.
Then we must do what we can. Don’t go on your roof when a storm is coming. If you were fleeing a burning building you would be mad to go back for your computer or a painting you liked. We might be persecuted but there is no need to invite trouble. Don’t go into a Mosque and condemn Muhammad.
Then we must pray. Don’t be a fatalist. God is moved by prayer; moved but not manipulated. Sometimes His ends will be achieved in a different way because we pray. He is a good God. We are sometimes blind to the hand of God in the affairs of Man. Who knows how many times he has ‘shortened the days’.
In the Second World War who stayed Hitler’s hand while 300,000 British and French soldiers escaped from the beaches of Dunkirk? Who provided the cloud cover that kept the attacking Stukas from bombing vulnerable men on the beaches? And how often has disaster ensued because no-one prayed?
How could ten Godly men have saved Sodom? They would have prayed. Why did Jonah take ship for Tarshish? Because he knew that if he preached to the men of Nineveh they might repent and God forgive them. God is like that. He is not willing that any should perish but that all should turn from their wicked ways and live.
In Nineveh there were one hundred and twenty thousand people who did not know their left hand from their right. Should our God not have compassion on them? How about the people of Kandarha or Khartoum or Basra or Baghdad or Hyderabad or Harare?


Vance Esler said...

Excellent post, Terry.

The same question arises in our business, though in a different form: "Why doesn't God heal me?"

After all, He healed all those people in the Bible. Where is He when I need Him?

As you point out, miracles -- by definition -- are rare. I wish they were not. I wish we could pray, fast, or do something else that would instantly remove the evil and suffering from this world.

I am resigned to the fact that it is not within my power to change the whole world. Yet it is within my grasp to relieve suffering where I see it, to set free the captives where I find them, and to spread God's mercy and grace where I can.

Diane said...

Dr. Hamblin:

I have been a member of the CLL Digest since Febuary '06 when I was diagnosed with CLL (while undergoing treatment for breast cancer). So far, I only read the posts, I've not yet commented on that site. But I clicked on a link that led me to your blog.

I know that I have reason to question God's providence for my life (why me?). But I know His purposes are far greater than mine and so I do not question "why me?" As a fellow Believer, I so appreciate your incite into God's ways.

justme said...

I enjoyed your post very much. Thank you!

Maybe our prayers are more about how they align our hearts and attitudes with His perfect will than changing His mind and our circumstances.

So often we do complain that if God is such a loving God, why is ___________ happening to me/my family/my friend/the world? Why doesn’t He DO SOMETHING? But God did do something; He gave His very life for us so that we might live! What greater act of love can He possibly perform?

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
Rom 8:18