these days, i find myself thinking along the same lines as this post and this one about the efficacy of intercessory prayer and God's action in the world. it's interesting that these topics seem to be on the my mind and that of several writers i enjoy at the same time. when one considers human responsibility versus divine intervention, i find it difficult to believe that God is busily ordering events in our lives, creating little reminders to remind us of God's love and care for us. we often attribute good things that happen to us as signals of God's presence. for instance in one of the blog posts i linked above, a couple who lost their home in a fire finds a bible that survived the fire with the bible open to the page that contains john 3:16. they interpret this to be a "sign" from God of God's love, believing that God placed that bible there for them to find. they don't ask why God didn't extinguish the fire before it had caused so much suffering for them, if God can leave a bible for them open to a certain page in the middle of the remains of a destructive fire. when this sort of question is raised, most who believe in this sort of god would say that we cannot understand the workings of the mind of God or that God sends suffering for a good reason or some such silliness.
i often hear other christians talk about God answering their prayers when something good happens in their lives. "last week i couldn't find my wedding ring. i turned the house upside down looking for it to no avail. finally i turned to God in prayer, asking God to show me where i left my ring. fifteen minutes later, there it was right on the kitchen counter where i left it. God is so good!" this is the sort of thing which makes me want to scream that God could care less about where you left your ring; it's your responsibility to keep up with your stuff, and, if you found it after asking for God's help, it's because the idea that God would help you triggered a subconscious memory that led you to the ring or it was simply a coincidence that the ring turned up after you prayed about it.
God gave us minds and the abundance of creation, all that we need to find our way through this brief life. isn't it enough to be grateful for these gifts and to use them to solve the problems which confront us? we don't need God to solve our problems, because we already have the resources to do that. i can't believe that God is busily creating circumstances to prove to us that God exists or to prove that God cares for us. I can't believe that an all-knowing God waits for our prayers asking for God's favors before responding. if God cures the disease that afflicts us or a loved one after we pray for such a cure, why did we or that person have the disease in the first place or, if God is all-knowing and involved in every circumstance of every life, why didn't God cure the disease before we asked? why would our personal intercession be necessary to move God to act to alleviate suffering?
life happens, large and small "miracles" occur, not because God causes them, but because that's the way life is. sometimes things work out the way we want, sometimes they don't. we rejoice in the good and do the best we can to solve the problems life hands us, and God rejoices and suffers along with us. we aren't alone, but God is no santa in the sky giving us all we ask if only we have the right kind of faith. if God is the creator of all that is, God doesn't need to leave open bibles laying around to remind us of God's greatness.
may we take responsibility for our own lives, neither giving credit to nor cursing God for what happens. may we use the resources we have to deal with what life hands us. may we live in gratitude for the gifts of our minds and the universe, honoring the interconnectedness of all things. shalom.