If God is “good” and “faithful” and “hears us” when someone recovers from sickness, what does that mean about God when they don’t recover?
What does it mean about God when an 11-year-old dies of cancer? What does it mean when a vaccinated couple in their seventies dies of COVID-19 in the same week? What does it mean when a man who has given his life to ministry is murdered in his own home?
For that matter, why does God bring “blessing” to some and allow sorrow for others? Why was I born here, in the heart of abundance and privilege, while another was born into poverty and oppression? Is God still good to her?
Does it mean that God isn’t good and faithful or that prayer doesn’t matter? That God cared less about those particular voices?
No. Of course not.
I’m not a theologian, but I think it means we have a very limited and flawed understanding of God. It means that as humans we want what we want, and that usually is to be comfortable and happy. It means when things go the way we want, we praise God openly. And when they don’t, we tend to be silent, or at least not as praising.
It means as a western culture, we have not cultivated practices of lament and grief. It means that we are so preoccupied with “keeping the lights on,” as the incomparable Barbara Brown Taylor would say, that we don’t want to even talk about the dark. It means we don’t see how God is still there, in the darkness, good and faithful, showing up in ways he only can in the dark.
It may very well mean we don’t understand what blessing and goodness and faithfulness even mean outside of how they impact our own comfort. It definitely means that as people claiming God as our father, we need to be so much more careful about how we portray him.
Is God good when the sick person recovers?
Just as good as he is when they die.
Photo courtesy of Jez Timms via Unsplash