I’m corresponding with a professed atheist friend of mine. I say “professed” because it just seems to untenable to me that someone could say that they know there is no God. Agnostic? Sure. Atheist? To me, that’s a pretty hard sell. Anyway, in one of our “conversations” I wrote the following.
Regarding God’s frustrating and frequently implemented “non-interference policy…” I have my personal irritations about how and when he chooses to intervene in human affairs. But here are some thoughts I have about it. I wouldn’t dare call them “reasons he doesn’t intervene” as much as what might possibly be going on in his thinking on this.
I have to begin by saying that I really think that it causes him pain to “stand by and do nothing,” maybe even more pain than it causes us to wait for him to do something. He set this free-will experiment up with it in mind (at least far as I can tell) to make it possible for us to have an actual friendship with him, rather than be puppets on a string with the puppeteer in the background making us say what he wants to hear. That would’ve made neither him nor us happy in the long run. As exasperating as it can be sometimes, he seems to be pretty serious about maintaining the integrity of this system, not only to our hurt, but to his own. I think I see his own heart bursting when he doesn’t bring immediate relief especially to innocent sufferers. I really do. Any father / mother would feel no less.
The caveat to this – as I see it then – is both the future hope and a present one. The future world that he promises us will have no pain in it either for him or for us. So he urges us to trust him until that day comes. Meanwhile we both feel the pangs of pain. And then there’s the promise that when we do have such pain he’ll weave these pains into something good in this present world.
Obviously I have no personal experience with the former (I haven’t been in that future world yet), but the latter is something I have seen over and over. It might sound like mental gymnastics to you right now, but I can only say that I am as sure as I can be that when he doesn’t prevent disasters or heal me from their consequences, he does piece together the broken shards into an unexpected work of art. I’m not saying we’ll always see the finished product in this life (the finished tapestry made of each of our crushed pieces), but I’ve seen enough glimpses of it in my life and in others that I’m convinced that this is somewhat of a pattern for him. (I hesitate to say, “pattern” because as soon as we have him figured out, he seems to change how he goes about things. But as much as I understand his ways today, this appears to be a rather common thing for him to do.)
So, to my mind, it’s not that God wants to intervene, but can’t, it’s more like he wants to and can, and sometimes does; and other times he doesn’t. When he doesn’t (at least not yet), it seems to me that he does stand on the sidelines (like the team medic) waiting for us to come to him for comfort. He’s “close to the broken hearted.”
Good readers: Heresy, helpful, or otherwise?