Third and last part of answering Phaedrus’ questions…
When it comes to things like the Tsunami, we can predict with 100% accuracy that god will not intervene in anyway. Why is this? Didn’t jesus say our prayers will be answered? as detailed in Matthew 7:7, Matthew 17:20, Matthew 21:21, Mark 11:24, John 14:12-14, Matthew 18:19 and James 5:15-16, etc., etc…?
I don’t agree, we cannot predict with 100% accuracy that God won’t intervene, just as we cannot predict with 100% accuracy the weather or where and when an earthquake will occur.
And, how do we know God didn’t intervene? How do we know it wasn’t going to be worse than it was? Can you say for sure, 100% that he didn’t? Or that he didn’t help save people who may otherwise have died? The truth is we just don’t know. Even for someone who doesn’t believe can you really say that you are 100% sure, that he didn’t intervene?
In terms of natural disasters (I have posted this somewhere else recently!) I think it comes down to the fact that God created our earth, with all its foibles. I am no scientist but I know that if the plates didn’t move the earth would not function as it does. For everything there is a reason (or season…). It still comes down to free will. We know, and have known for a long time which areas of the earth are more susceptible to earthquakes and so on, but we still chose to live there. Now I am not saying it was the fault of the people who chose to live there that they died, not for one second. But we cannot have it both ways. God created the world to work as it does, and when it does, do we blame him for it? That’s hardly fair is it?
In terms of prayer and the references you raise, all of the passages you highlighted are about faith. About trusting in God, Jesus is teaching them, and us, to trust in Him. I can say with security that my prayers are always answered. They may not be answered in the way I want them to be, I may get a ‘no’ sometimes but I think God is still there listening when I pray. For example I may ask for wisdom, but does God give me wisdom, or an opportunity to show it? If I ask for strength does he make me strong or give me an opportunity to be so? (I read this somewhere recently and would like to give the credit to that person but I can’t remember where it was!)
I cannot tell you why some people are healed (and they very much are) and others are not. I do not know why bad stuff happens to good people, or why prayers are seemingly unanswered, why innocent children die at the hands of drunk drivers or why guilty men get off scott free in court. I don’t know, I do not profess to have the mind of God, but I have faith in Him, as a loving God, who has a plan for all of us, a plan to give us a hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11),
I also know that he can use all things for good. (Romans 8:28). Many Christians I know have suffered greatly over the years, but God has used that suffering in huge ways to enrich them and their lives and their faith.
I’m not even going to start on the whole force for evil/fallen world argument as we’ll be here forever, but that is another point..;)