It really bothers me to hear people who, say, escaped the World Trade Center just in time or just "happened" to be sick that day praising God because "His timing is perfect" and thus, this particular person is saved from a fiery death, not mauled by lions that week, or whatever. Now, I suppose this is because the unspoken implication is that all those OTHER people that died were just not as favoured of the Lord that day. Probably they're just not as holy or "in" with God, forgot to say a prayer, or their worship time wasn't long enough. (Did they play that Christian rock stuff during it? That's a killing.) Oh, or they didn't tithe perfectly or perhaps say the magic words, "In Jesus' Name, Amen" at the end of the prayer they prayed, thus nullifying it.
Or perhaps they did nothing wrong, we can never know these things, etc. etc. Therefore, in these circumstances, the reason must be that God somehow needed to "be glorified" through mass carnage. I mean, everything in life is supposed to be good if it "brings God glory." He didn't have enough to start with (He must be limited, you see) and so he needed some extra this week to get Himself by.
Maybe I'm just not a very good Christian, but stuff like that makes me wanna puke. That, and the idea that YES! healing is for today... but... If you're sick, just keep praying and going to the doctor. Sick still? Keep praying and do spiritual things like "push through and touch the hem of His garment." Did you give a "special gift?" Someone no doubt would tell me that the reason all my prayers are not answered is because I haven't done these things lately.
Very nice theology. Maybe, just maybe, I've done them and done them and done them and done them and figured out it hasn't worked. Past a certain point, maybe it's foolish to keep doing them. Maybe, just maybe, God wants me to accept things as they are or leave them alone *for now* and come back to them later. I don't think you can test God through prayer in some simple "if/then" loop.
OK, disclaimer: I do believe in God. I believe in the inerrancy of scripture as proclaimed in the Bible. I think we should NOT be tossed on every wind of doctrine, but I also don't think we should hang on to things just because that's the way we've always done it. Very nice if you want to wear a dress, but I don't see where (at least in our culture today) my wearing pants is immodest. Things like that are extras and/or personal conviction. If you're so together that wearing a dress or not is a big issue for you, congratulations! Some of us are still struggling with other stuff like drug addiction, gossip or just plain sour attitudes. So you just go with that if you have that other stuff together. If you don't? Well, at least you'll be looking good as though you do.
And I believe in prayer. I can tell you that after prayer, my son Elf was totally healed of his asthma. He's doing so well, I can scarce believe that this used to be a chronic condition for him. I just don't see that it follows that others weren't as deserving or whatever. All I can say is, "YAY! I'm glad God did something this time," and just praise Him for that. I can't pretend to understand the whys of it. Only that sometimes, it happens.
One thing that sort of bothers me... well, a lot... is this idea that pastors on the radio have been doing of late. They'd ask their local atheist friend to pray for 30 days to prove or disprove the existence of God. This has to be the silliest thing I've ever heard. Watch those heathens get saved by the score! Woo-hoo!
IMO, one of four things will happen as a result:
1. Somehow, God makes Himself known to the atheist in a powerful way. Even though the atheist was not a believer when he prayed. Even though prayer from an atheist is rathermuch akin to my talking to the Santa Claus in my rafters that I don't believe in and expecting an answer. Hey, I can't limit God so I suppose this choice *could* happen.
2. The atheist was already a secret believer, and this "test" helped him come out of the closet. He then has a good reason to say that supernatural things have happened, thus "convincing" him that it's ok to be a Christian. It might lose him a few of his atheist friends, but it would give him some street cred with his new peer group.
3. The atheist has so thoroughly bought into the power of suggestion that he has somehow hypnotized himself over the last thirty days. Maybe if I prayed to Allah for 30 days, fasted, spent time only with Muslims over that time, etc. I would become a Muslim. (NOT an experiment I want to try. Thanks.)
4. The atheist becomes even more hardened to the gospel message because the whole experiment was a crock and he doesn't feeeeeel any differently.
Now. Despite all that I have written, I have to give you a praise report. D was able to see his Granny one last time, and was able to be with her when she died. I am thankful to God that this time, it seems that He has made the timing perfect. D was unable to get out of appointments last Wednesday or work on Sunday (he maintains computer systems, and YOUR sabbath therefore must be his workday sometimes, as that is when the system is unused. Not that he goes to church anyway). He left Wednesday afternoon and got there late that night. He was able to spend Thursday and part of Friday with his Granny and be right there when she died. Saturday morning, early, he headed home. Slept a bit Saturday night and off to work Sunday morning.
I don't know why things worked out so well (considering the circumstance of her dying, which was imminent!). I think sometimes we can just say "thank you," knowing we don't know the whys of everything. Nor can we.