Where is God when it hurts?
Last week I saw the following tweet from a high profile Christian minister:
'If God answers 'Yes', He is increasing your faith.
If 'Wait', He is increasing your patience.
If 'No', He has something better for you.'
You can read the tweet here.
The short version of my response to this is: NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!!
Here is the longer version.
I believe that this kind of attitude to prayer and suffering is simplistic, naive, pastorally insensitive and potentially extremely damaging. While I was going through fertility investigations and treatment several years ago, I discovered that, without realising it, I had internalised this view of prayer. My whole life was about waiting, and it was excruciating. The two weeks out of every month waiting to take a pregnancy test. The months between doctor's appointments. The months and then years waiting to achieve what most people achieve quickly and easily. Part of me believed that the waiting was 'good for me,' and that if only I were a better Christian, I would maintain a docile, quiet trust in the face of this extreme provocation. Then, five years ago, my second round of IVF failed miserably, and I had to start coming to terms with the fact that my infertility was permanent. I came face to face with the fact that, if the above view of prayer were correct, then God had chosen to ignore my pleas for a reason which remained a mystery to me.
Here is a link to a 30-minute conversation between myself and my friend Andy, in which we discuss suffering, prayer, miracles, lament, and the death of Jesus. I offer some thoughts on Holy Saturday - the day between the cross and the Resurrection - a day which, for me, holds all our unanswered prayers. Next Wednesday 16th February, at 8.30pm, we'll be talking about the Resurrection. We'd love to hear your thoughts and questions.