The Divine Mr. Fixit
A church youth fellowship was returning from a weekend camp when their bus was swept off a flooded causeway. While the rescuers fought to pluck the young people out of the swollen river, the parents gathered for prayer. As the children were brought in, one mum came out hugging her child. Her words went something like this. "I thank God for hearing my prayers".
If God did actually hear the prayers of this lady and the prayers of the others whose children were rescued, why didn't he hear the prayers of the parents of those children who died?
We could blame the children who died. It was some form of Divine punishment for their evil ways. A rather grotesque idea. We could blame the parents. They weren't righteous enough; they didn't deserve to have their prayers answered. Or, they didn't have enough faith, they didn't believe strongly enough that God would hear their prayers. We could blame God. Assuming that he's a loving and caring Being, we may want to argue that he refrained from intervening because of some Divine purpose. In the mystery of his will, it was his intention to take the children to himself for some ultimate good.
Mind you, this dilemma is only a problem for those who believe in the existence of a loving personal God. If he doesn't exist, then there is no problem. Also, it is a dilemma for those who believe in an interventionist God. It's only when we believe that God is continually manipulating the circumstances of life, that we end up with the problem of unanswered prayer.
Is God some divine Mr. Fixit? Is he at the beckon call of those who are his friends? Do we really think that he is but putty in our hands? As long as we pray believing, then we get what we want. When I say that the Lord is really blessing me in my business, my marriage, my health, then I am left with the problem as to why he is not doing that with everyone, or with every other believer. Why are so many not succeeding? Why are their prayers not being answered? If God is the supplier of all material blessings then I am bound to think that my success is obviously a reward for goodness. A thought that certainly builds up my ego.
If God is not the divine manipulator of events, at what point does he intersect with our lives? I think that rather than seeing God as the orchestrator of the endless rush of circumstance, we're closer to the truth when we see him as the one who stands with us in the face of the storms of life. Jesus is well able "to sympathize with our weaknesses" for he has stood where we now stand. He has faced the full onslaught of life's fickle ways and so can share in our pain. He is "the God of all comfort".