Trying to get answer to questions about matters of faith that puzzle the mind of a curious thinking, honest individual seeking verifiable truth, is tantamount to an attempt at capturing smoke in a knitted bag.It is like trying to fit a large, unruly snake into a small sack.It simply cannot be done.Answers to questions about what people of faith say, teach and believe cause one to sense that no one is offering any response that makes sense, in a world where we all must strive to do and believe only the things that do make sense to us.
My very first real encounter with this confusing reaction was experienced when I watched as very well-meaning, earnest group of saints pray for a woman who was ill.The woman died. Their answer was that God chose to take her to live with him in his kingdom, since she was such a blessed soul.I watched as they grieved bitterly at their loss and God's gain.These people would have encountered numerous experiences of this sort.
I recall also a similar fervency of prayer and fasting over a child who had been hospitalized with a life-threatening illness. He too died in spite of the prayers. Again, their response was, God knows best.The logical thing to think in these circumstances is: since God is going to do what he is going to do anyway, why fast, pray and weep over the ill person, and why doesn't God intervene telling them clearly so that everyone can hear, that he is taking the suffering one to be with him, and they should save their energy for one he does not wish as yet to have in his kingdom?
I am just saying this is the type of question a reasonable person must ask even himself if no one else.
But there is no room in faith for this type of reasoning. In fact, such reasoning is forbidden and frowned upon with rather deep-farrowed brows.
These thoughts came to my mind a few nights ago when I attended a gospel concert staged by a group of Christian brothers, two of whom are blind. They do sing beautifully, and their songs were interspersed with what, for the believers present, may have been some tear-jerking moments of blessing.
The story told by one of the singers was of a grueling poor up bringing of a quiver full of children without a dad. No mention was made of why the dad was absent.
He recalled a day when his mom, in Cristian fervor, took a belt and whipped the children into prayer, demanding that they prayed to God for food. It seemed clear to me that the children were not being punished for any wrong they had done other than their hesitance, for whatever reason, to pray that God bring them their daily bread. The relater of the story said they had scarcely begun praying when there was a call at the gate. They looked and there was a teacher carrying a basked of food.
As stated before, this must have been a very touching story for many in the audience. The memory of that incident was so moving to the teller that he broke down in tears. I, on the other hand, only felt pity for a mother who would beat her children into prayer, thinking it the most righteous of deeds a mother could perform.
I found myself wondering just how much the teacher knew about the circumstances under which the family lived.It could not be difficult to be well acquainted with such a plight in a tiny village where it was not difficult to know which friends and neighbours were most in need. A teacher and government worker, having a steady income above that of the average villager, would have no trouble occasionally supplying a basked of food to a poor neighbour whose talented and beautiful children attended her school, even without the children being beaten to their knees. There are many stories of God meeting people's need, particularly among Protestant Christian circles, and persons who make other analysis of the factual circumstances that may have led more to the need being met, are considered blind misfits and heathenish fit only for the eternal flames of hell.Even if we are encouraged to think, we must not think such thoughts as the one I allow to enter my mind
.I once heard a woman pray in an unknown tongue. She prayed that an incident about to be undertaken would be completed without anyone being hurt. I asked someone nearby what would be the safest conclusion to arrive at if someone were to be hurt despite the fervent prayer. The answer was that we should continue, nevertheless, to pray for the hurt persons, as God must have had his reasons for allowing the hurt.
Well,there must be something inside my being that simply does not permit me to doing that intellectual acrobatics that is the dance of faith, and I like it better this way.