anything happens

god lets anything happen prayer from the cell by nakedpastor david hayward

I got this line from the interesting film, Machine Gun Preacher” when Sam Childers expresses this sad reflection, overcome with the cruel injustice he’s witnessing in the Sudan.

I immediately wrote it down in my journal when I heard it because I’ve said this when confronted with incredibly bad news or when going through a crisis.

In the context of suffering words like “God is in control!” make absolutely no sense. Anything happens!

Realizations such as this help us move into a deeper spirituality that embraces Mystery.

About David Hayward

David Hayward runs the blog nakedpastor as a graffiti artist on the walls of religion where he critiques religion… specifically Christianity and the church. He also runs the online community The Lasting Supper where people can help themselves discover, explore and live in spiritual freedom.

  • Jacquie

    God allows anything…so that’s a stumbling block for me….if he is all powerful it doesn’t make good sense to me that he’d allow bad stuff. I recognize that is a hard thing to accept for many people, not just myself.

    I would have to wrestle a long time with the anger, frustration, weeping or whatever before I got to the Mystery stage, David. Not sure if that would be a common experience?

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    absolutely common. kicking and screaming. it’s difficult to let our tidy categories and rationalizations go.

  • Michelle

    Rom 8:18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.

    I frequently look around at the beauty of this world and find myself thinking, “This place is so beautiful; what else could there be?”

    But this place is only temporary, and we look forward to glory. That is our hope.

  • http://triangulations.wordpress.com Sabio Lantz

    On this site, there are Christians who quote verses to make their points and Christians who don’t. I think the reason many don’t, is because they no longer weigh the Bible as they use to.

    But many of these folks are afraid to admit the huge decrease in the value of “The Bible” in their lives because they then feel they will have no basis for anything. Until people lose that fear, the conversation will always seem confused.

    Liberal Christians want to disvalue the Bible or radically re-evaluate it, but they still want to quote it without being upfront about how they interpret it. It makes me wonder why they would quote at all — it seems like pure demagoguery to me.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    God does let it all happen. This pride-soaked, sin-soaked world will play itself out.

    But as Michelle quoted above, the pain and suffering of this world will eventually give way to the New Creation in Christ and then peace and justice will reign.

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    Steve: Ya, those little orphan boys who were kidnapped to become soldiers and forced to torture and murder their own parents and brothers and sisters are so filled with pride and sin.

  • Carol

    God judged it better to bring good out of evil than to suffer no evil to exist. Saint Augustine

    God had one son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering. ~Saint Augustine

    The Mysteries of faith are like the sun, we cannot gaze directly into them; but they illuminate all else. -Orthodox Churches of the East, Apophatic Tradition

    The mysteries of faith are degraded if they are made into an object of affirmation and negation, when in reality they should be an object of contemplation.–Simone Weil

    “If knowing answers to life’s questions is absolutely necessary to you, then forget the journey. You will never make it, for this is a journey of unknowables –of unanswered questions, enigmas, incomprehensibles, and most of all, things unfair.” — Madame Jeanne Guyon

  • Syl

    What if…? What if God does not allow suffering but either exists in a form that makes that concept/question meaningless or simply does not exist? What if the meaning of suffering is not to be found “out there”, determined by God, or something which has an objective existence we can discover? What if that meaning is instead something we must each determine and then create in our own way? What if the most profound and lasting meaning develops as we move from despair and loss toward concrete, creative action? What if, instead of asking life or God what the meaning of suffering is, it’s God or life asking us what meaning we will find or create?

    Food for thought. Each of us will have our own responses and come to our own conclusions, and will probably find that our convictions about these things evolve over time. Thinking in this way may be uncomfortable if it’s unfamiliar, but I’ve found peace in examining, embracing, and working through questions like these.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    David,

    Everyone is filled with pride and sin.

    That is not to say that there aren’t victims of hate and abuse. There are.

    God has given this world up to sin. But He has also answered that sin in Christ that this veil of tears may have a happy ending.

  • Nancy T.

    David, I totally get your response to Steve, and IMHO Steve is kind of missing the point. T

    hat said, when I read his post, I really liked the line, ‘This pride-soaked, sin-soaked world will play itself out’. I thought it was well said, that the world will play itself out, that is why the ‘let anything happen’ is there, but unlike some Star Trek the Next Generation, there will be no ‘improved humanity’ to save the day.

    We are just one more animal in the animal kingdom, and with no apex predator (other than ourselves killing each other) to keep us balanced.

    In the bigger picture, you miss an important point. Child soldiers are not the ones that are sin-soaked. But take a map of Africa, put over a transparency that shows where there is oil, diamonds, or access to oil routes. Now, put over a transparency showing where there is civil war.

    I think you’ll find the results enlightening. Power is probably the worst kind of pride, it engenders a sense of entitlement and views people and the world’s animals, plants, and resources as expendable.

    I know that wasn’t your point about child soldiers, but interestingly, the ‘let it happen’ is often tied back to greed, power, control… more of the ‘sin-soaked’ and to me ‘sin’ isn’t necessarily only a ‘christian’ concept. Being apart from ethics, love, beauty… anything causing that can be seen as ‘sin’.

    Unfortunately, we our the source of most of the sin-soaked world. (I know, treading on thin ice and getting close to the issues about ‘poverty’, etc, for you)

    When we realize that society, of which we are a part, has handed over responsibility and that Coke, McDonalds, , big pharma, industrial war complex, etc. all exist, to some degree or other, because large numbers of people brought them into being, then we are closer to seeing the world as it is.

    That said, unfortunately we can’t turn back the hands of time, and once those that are motivated by profit and power gain control, it is almost insurmountable to get it back. We are indeed the 99%. However, North Americans and to a degree most of Western Europe, are sort of the 75% (guessing at the percent for arguments sake) compared to the rest of the world’s population.

    There is no one ‘fits all’ answer, everyone has to work out their own salvation and their own ethics. I just finished off a glass of chocolate milk, and I know that over 70% of the world’s chocolate production goes through a process from planting beans to purchase point, that at some point in time does involve child labor.

    The non-existent god I don’t believe in doesn’t save the day, their is no ‘salvation for the christians’, but maybe, in the late afternoon sunlight, while tracking a dust mote through the air, it might be that human invention of ‘god’ was an attempt to take away ‘sin’ so that we could find the beautiful, and ethical, and loving within ourselves and others.

    /sermonizing and pendantry

  • Notmyrealname

    “Realizations such as this help us move into a deeper spirituality that embraces Mystery.”
    ——–

    Yes, I love how the rape and murder of children, how the degradations committed by fellow humans, how the suffering of the innocent (sorry, I mean ‘deserving sinners) help me move into deeper spirituality. Heads on pikes make me smile at the Mystery of it all. It’s all just a mystery, isn’t it? LA DA DA DEE DA DA DA. Head in the clouds.

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    Or, like you perhaps?, head in the sand.

  • Notmyrealname

    “Or, like you perhaps?, head in the sand.”

    Is that a response? You can do better than that, my friend. Thus far your response has done little to help me as I struggle with my anger at a god that allows anything and everything. Perhaps you mistake me for an atheist here to poke and prod and runaway? I’m sure you get those. I am not. I trained to be a missionary with New Tribe Missions for several years. I’ve been to Senegal (the same village, in fact, where several of the missionaries engaged in an almost ritual sexual abuse of their student charges). I abandoned that when I realized most in that ‘organization’ had THEIR heads in the sand, oblivious or uncaring about the problem of evil. Or worse, offering bland ‘it’s his will’ crap. Thanks for your well thought out response to a real issue: how can we say “oh, it’s such a mystery! Isn’t it wonderful how the suffering of others teaches us how wonderfully mysterious it all is?” I have a problem gaining spiritual insight and ‘depth’ on the backs of raped and murdered children. But that’s just my problem, I guess.

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    I’m sorry Notmyrealname. My response was immediate and thoughtless. Now for a real response.

    First of all, your second comment enlightened the first one. So I appreciate that.

    If you’ve seen the movie I refer to, the atrocities are real and shocking. Seems you’ve seen some of this stuff first hand. I’m sorry for that. When I say “Mystery”, I also include the dark stuff that goes on and that you and I have seen.

    I don’t know how peoples’ “god” can allow this to happen. The sentiment of my prayer from the cell is that if people do believe in an all-powerful and compassionate god, then how can these atrocities occur? That’s the question I posed.

    I simply don’t understand it. You don’t. No one does. The “deeper spirituality” is one that is willing to humbly admit this ignorance.

    However, a “deeper spirituality” that does admit this ought to be committed to justice and the abolishment of injustice on the earth.

    Thanks again.

  • Syl

    Seems to me that whether God is occupied with other things, has “given the world up to sin”, is unable or unwilling to intervene, or simply doesn’t exist, the effect in this world (the only one we truly know exists) is the same. So then, what is an ethical and meaningful response?

    What about the belief that since this world is temporary, it doesn’t really matter – it’s all ashes and dust, corrupt and lost so even the most noble acts are ultimately without merit – God will sort it out in the end…? While that opinion may be supported by a literal reading of certain portions of the ancient writings which are revered as scripture, I find that attitude to be both deplorable and shortsighted.

    In contrast, the attitude found in James is that “faith without works is dead” and “this is the true faith – to care for orphans and widows in heir distress…” Providing practical comfort and relief from suffering, where possible, is not presented as being a waste, but instead as the natural expression of and response to faith. If faith in Christ doesn’t result in not only a changed heart but also changed action, what good is it? Eternal life for the believer? Really? “As you’ve done to the least of these you’ve done unto me…” I think that a faith which s not broad or deep enough to inspire down to earth empathy-in-action, which doesn’t strive for real world results (however temporary they may be), is far too small and narrow a faith. Is it really just about getting to the sweet by and by, here and now be damned? Don’t give me “here and now is damned” – in my opinion that type of dogmatic fatalism puts “god is dead” nihilism to shame in terms of real, measurable negative results.

    I have to go back to turning the question around – it’s not why does God allow suffering, but what is our response to suffering? No one can tell someone else what the suffering in their own lives should mean – we each must find and make our own meaning. And we cannot expect the suffering of others to be lessened or prevented by wishing or praying it away (again, refer to James). If there is a God, we are his hands and voice. Why doesn’t God prevent or stop suffering in Darfur? Why don’t we?

  • Syl

    For Notmyrealname and David – just want you both to know I appreciate your clarification and follow up response.

  • http://www.whatisspiritual.com Richard Harty

    If you are going to claim that god is just god then you have to stick to your rationalizations. Justice is completely about fairness and rationalization.

    One of the reasons that most religions some time in their history do despicable things is precisely because they stop reasoning and chock it up to this mysterious violent/uncaring god.

    Penn Jillette makes this observation about god, claiming to be moral, doing things that would be considered highly immoral if done by people. This would be like him, after going over to the neighbor and torturing her and raping her and then killing her, telling the police the reason he did it was because he was a mysterious guy.


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