Monday, August 9, 2010


This is about can or will.

I firmly believe that God CAN do anything he wants to. The big theological word for this is omnipotent. He is all powerful.

I’ve been thinking about this as I keep hearing regularly about friends and others dealing with tragedies in their lives, illness etc.

The headlines last week related to the school bus crash might cause one to wonder “Where was God when …”

I don’t know where He was exactly.

I’ve been praying for a lot of things for a very long time. So far, the big things are still on my list.

But I struggle. Every time I pray I wonder. I think of the excerpt from the verse “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”

This takes me back to my premise – can or will.

I have no issues with the “can” part. It’s the “will” that troubles me.
Why won’t He? Why doesn’t He?

I throw in this quote from Rabbi Harold Kushner (I think it is attributable to him – he of “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”):

“If I had to face the fact that God was either all-powerful but not kind, or thoroughly kind and loving, but not totally powerful, I would rather compromise God's power and affirm his love. The theological conclusion I came to is that God could have been all-powerful at the beginning, but he chose to designate two areas of life off-limits to his power. He would not arbitrarily interfere with laws of nature. And secondly, God would not take away our freedom to choose between good and evil."

I’m not pasting this in to say I agree with him but it is food for thought. I’m sure many folks wondered where was God when Katrina hit the coast several years ago. I’m sure there are parents wondering where was God when the busses and trucks collided last week. I don’t know. Was He watching and crying?

I think my main disagreement with Rabbi Kushner would be this: God is either all powerful (that omnipotent word again) or He isn’t. I don’t think He might be almost all powerful. It reminds me of a statement about being pregnant. You either are or you aren’t; there is no in-between.

There’s a section in the book of Daniel with a scene where the angel Michael arrives in answer to a prayer. He says something to the effect that, “I was sent in answer to your prayer but it was tough getting here so it took some time, but now I’m here.”

So back to the “can” part. Could God have held back the waters in southern Louisiana? Certainly. He did that at least once before (though not in Louisiana). Why didn’t He this time? I don’t know. Were I one of those who lost my home on the Gulf Coast, I might be shaking my fist at God and asking “why?” But maybe that’s why so many chose instead to shake their collective fists at the Govt. and FEMA and George Bush. They might not be able to do much either but they are tangible, real people that can be yelled at. And maybe, just maybe, something might happen to help them.

After Brooks and Dunn had their smash hit “I Believe” they followed up with another “spiritual” song about God being busy. At first hearing I wondered, what did they mean? God was too busy to take care of something? He had other more important things to do?

Then I figured out (think this may be what the songwriter meant) that since God gave us free will (a way more complex discussion than I can handle or explain), we’ve made such a royal mess of things that He is busy cleaning up after us. It might be a stretch but perhaps in letting us do what we want (see Kushner above) we get out of sorts with His plan but He lets us anyway then steps in (sometimes apparently) and sorts it all out. He doesn’t always play mommy and make it all better.

Here’s a verse in case you are unfamiliar with Kix and Ronnie’s song:

“And I know in the big picture
I'm just a speck of sand
and God's got better things to do
than look out for one man.
I know he's heard my prayers
cause he hears everything,
he just ain't answered back
or he'd bring you back to me.
God must be busy.”

I guess I’ll keep struggling with “can” and “will.” If I figure it out I’ll let you know. Please do the same for me.

1 comment: