by Brandy Webb
This week another tragedy took place and fourteen people lost their lives due to the senseless actions of others. Like always, it started a firestorm between politicians and the media. Yet, this time the attack was on prayer not just guns. In fact, the New York Daily News’ front page was “God Isn’t Fixing This,” and it called those of us who pray, “cowards who could truly end gun scourge continue to hide behind meaningless platitudes.” Now, I’m not going to get in the gun debate. All I will say is people really need to do their research for themselves and not listen to politicians and the media because the truth is gun violence happens even in places that guns are not allowed by their citizens. Criminals and hateful people are not going to follow the rules.
Okay, enough about guns, the real issue here for me is the attack on people who pray and the attack on our God. I know God could have stopped the tragedy from happening, but He didn’t. I know that tragedies happen every day. I know that good people do not always win like they do in the movies. I also know this is what it has been like since the fall in the Garden of Eden. What I don’t know for sure is why, but I have some ideas even if they are not perfect because I am not perfect.
One idea is we all have free will, and we live in an evil world. Ever since the fall in the Garden, Satan has been in power. He “has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor 4:4). As Christians, we understand this. We understand that it is because of this that Jesus was crucified. We also understand that we have hope. This isn’t the only life we will live. Yet, it is hard right now because with free will and blindness to God’s ways come all types of sin. This is why we have hate, the opposite of love, because people have the power of choice, and God isn’t going to take that away from them. Does this mean that some of our prayers do not get answered because of someone else’s right of free will? Maybe sometimes, but I know not all the time because I have seen prayers answered.
We do not know when our prayers actually do stop tragic situations because we cannot see the different paths that our timeline could have gone. The truth is, the “prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16b), but there are first steps to this scripture. We must first “confess our sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16a). You know what is interesting about this? In order for ourselves to be healed, we must first confess our sins to each other and pray for each other. Confession and the offering of prayers for other people are what are required for your own healing. When is the last time you heard politicians confess their sins? Could that be another reason “God isn’t fixing this,” because of our own prideful attitudes that stop us from humbling ourselves before Him, confessing when we are wrong, and realizing we need His help?
Let’s see what God says. After Solomon builds the Temple of God and God consecrates it, He gives Solomon some advice that is vital to us all, not just Israel then. He tells Solomon that when He shuts “up the heavens so that there is no rain,” or commands “the locust to devour the land,” or sends “pestilence among” His people, IF His “people who are called by [His] name humble themselves, and pray and seek [His] face and turn from their wicked ways, then [He] will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chron 7:13-14, emphasis mine).
Who has seen a nation repent and pray for forgiveness? I know I haven’t. Therefore, maybe God isn’t fixing this because we have chosen not to let Him. Maybe He hasn’t turned His back on us, but we have turned our backs on Him? As Christians, we need to set the example. We may not change this world, but we never know who may change because of our actions. Let us be the first to repent, humble ourselves, and “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17). We may not understand fully the ways of God, but we do understand enough to know that, though to the world it looks as if “God isn’t fixing this” right now, He is actively preparing the time when everything will be fixed for eternity.