How Bad Theology Hurts the Suffering

Desiring God | 3/20/2019 | Vaneetha Rendall Risner
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Why does God answer yes to some prayers and no to others? Why does God miraculously heal some people and not others? Why does disaster strike one city and not another?

I’ve been pondering these questions since Hurricane Florence devastated much of Eastern North Carolina last year. I live in the center of the state, and contrary to the foreboding predictions, we were relatively unaffected. In response, a friend said, “I know why we were spared catastrophe and the storm circled our area and went south. I was praying that God would keep us safe and he answered my prayers!”

Words

I had no words.

I know that God answers prayer. And we need to pray. God tells us to ask and it will be given to us (Matthew 7:7). But my friend’s words made me wonder if she thought that no one in Eastern Carolina was praying. I know people whose livelihoods were destroyed in the storm. Everything they owned was gone. They escaped with their lives but nothing material left. Some of them begged God to spare their city.

Believers - Disasters - Lines - Requests - God

What are we as believers to infer from these natural disasters? Can we simply draw straight lines between our requests and God’s answers? Years ago, I heard a pastor tell of his cancer that went into remission. When he told his congregation the good news, several commented, “We knew God would heal you. He had to. So many people were praying for you.”

While the pastor was thankful for others’ prayers, he also knew God did not owe him healing. Faithful believers throughout the ages have earnestly prayed and yet not been healed. The apostle Paul was not healed to show God’s power could be made perfect in Paul’s weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Son - Paul - Infant

And then there was my own son, Paul, who died as an infant....
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