With the recent church shooting in Southerland Springs, Texas that left 26 dead and many others wounded, we are seeing a display of criticism against prayer. Nonbelievers have been quick to criticize anyone who says they are praying for the victims’ families. They say prayer is not helping or this would never have happened. The say, “The time for prayer is over—it’s time for action.” They blatantly say, “If prayer really worked—these Christians would have been spared the mayhem.” Let’s examine their logic. When a shooting takes place in a movie theater, they do not criticize those who make movies or build theaters. They do not blame the killing on the movie industry. When a shooting happens in a school, we don’t hear complaints against education. However, when it happens in churches, Christians are held to a higher standard than the rest of the mass shooting victims.
The point is that these unbelievers are describing their god to us. He is a little god that they can control and who answers to them. The very idea that God is omniscient does not compute with them. They know nothing of the God of the Bible.
The biggest discrepancy in their thinking is their inability to account for evil. Their explanations for evil fail them in such moments. In their thinking, humanity is supposed to be improving and getting better because of enlightenment and education, but when things like this happen and they can’t explain them, they are at a loss for explaining evil.
The Bible is very clear about evil—it comes from the sinful desires of human beings. It is also compounded by the Satanic influence present in this world. The origin of evil, according to the Bible, is sin, and sin is the cause of the world’s horrific problems. Every sin has a consequence; multiply that throughout the entire world and over every generation, and you can see that sin can have a devastating effect on people–even innocent people.
The Bible says there will be an ultimate reckoning with evil, and Satan himself will meet his eternal reward. However, until then the world will be plagued with evil, and any of us can feel its effects. God does not promise a cocoon for believers so that they never have to experience evil. What God does promise us is that we have eternal life beyond this temporal life. This is no small promise to people whose worldview considers the eternal perspective essential to living on this earth. God also promises us his presence and his comfort no matter what we face. Those of us who believe in the God of the Bible believe that he is bringing this world toward its ultimate end, and his timing is very different from ours. We trust him nonetheless with our lives, our futures, and our questions.
I, like others, would like to have seen the lunatic stopped in his tracks before he harmed on person in the church on November 5, 2017. However, for those of us who believe in God, we trust him despite our questions. As Habakkuk the prophet so eloquently said, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (Hab 3:17-18).