I do believe a higher being might exist. However, I think God (in the traditional monotheistic sense) is either the weakest god in the cosmos or the cruelest one. I don’t know how to sum up my experience in words but I thought I’d ask anyway

When you guys think about tragedies such as Covid 19, 9/11, suicides, etc, don’t you ever wonder why God saves some people and leaves others to die?

WARNING; Long:

(This is actually a personal story so I know it can only be considered anecdotal.)

Pretty much, a close family friend came down with Covid. From the conversations my family has had with him, he’s a pretty staunch agnostic.

Once he came down with the virus, he started off ok and then took a turn for the worse. The man was very close to dying, couldn’t breathe, on oxygen, lungs inactive, barely lucid, no motor skills you know the whole shebang. Serious praying went down from the Christian members in my family - and he got better.

He’s out of the hospital now and saying stuff like, “I feel God will be doing great things”. I’m not saying he’s a Christian now, but he might believe in a higher being.

Some of you guys might think I’m lucky to have seen a “miracle” in action. Sure. Lovely. Great.

But how can we forget all the people who didn’t make it? All the family members (who I’m sure) genuinely prayed that God would pull through, and help that family member out. Or when people were jumping out of blazing buildings on 9/11 and then this women screamed, “Dear God! God please save them! They’re jumping! God please!”

Was that woman’s cry not genuine enough? Why would God “answer” one prayer and not the other? Where’s the benefit in having nearly 3000 souls lost? Why the partiality?

And what about that person who called out to God before suicide and asked that he’d reveal himself? I’ve seen the stories on reddit actually. There was a guy who became a Christian after the trigger didn’t work when he prayed (something along those lines).

So great for that guy. I love that he didn’t end his life. But what about everyone else? Why pick some and forget everyone else?

TL:DR - Why does God save some people and forget others?

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Wow. Your reply makes it sound like you’re conceding the monstrous nature but pointing out that there is a way to stay on it’s good side. Hopefully you don’t have in mind the sort of total compliance shown by Abraham. I don’t really think that.

First I don’t believe in those kinds of miracles. I think like many, he got it, came close to dying, and then because of technology and his immune system he was able to bounce back. I am fairly certain the majority of people who die from cancer, viruses, slowly bleeding out, and ect… all pray to God if they are in a country where christianity is popular. They pray, and still die.

I guess one thing to do would be to search out all the examples of prayer in the Bible, not just a few from the gospels, and see what it’s purpose is.

God is not killing people off and he’s not miraculously saving them. Your friend survived because of a better hospital, better treatments, better immune system, and chance. It reminds me of the “football team prayer”. So many players say they prayed before a game to win and they won and it’s because of God!!! When no it’s not. The other team, and all the losing teams, also had people praying and still lost.

Now biblically, when we see stories of God saving someone it’s because they are righteous and truly seeking his will and have faith in him like with Noah. But even then, we still see most of them dying. Even Christ died.

The reason why bad things happen is essentially 2 reasons. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time and because others have free will.

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That’s a good point, and this is a difficult question. I think one thing that makes it difficult is because so much of the New Testament involves physical healing and miracles. Jesus healed many – I guess you could just say they were lucky enough to live in the same time and place as Jesus. But it would be easy to assume from Acts and the epistles that healing ministries were meant to continue. I can understand why this would cause confusion for some, and acceptance of some kind of prosperity gospel for others – the idea that Jesus will heal you if you simply have enough faith (which can become a self-fulfilling prophecy).

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I’m working on some things to post in here. Just will take some time. But without being able to post all the scriptural reasons why at this moment what I believe is this.

Jesus came here and was God in the flesh and he healed the sick to prove he was the messiah and could forgive sins. He was jump starting the church. Then before leaving, he told the apostles to wait in Jerusalem and he breathed on them. Then on Pentecost the Holy Spirit came down on them giving them the power to lay hands. The apostles throughout scripture state they have laid their hands on someone and given them a power but those people in return , as in acts 8 with Philip and Simon, can’t pass on the gift. As time drew closer and closer to God revealing all scripture to humanity the gifts ceased. They were there for one purpose. To jumpstart the church first to the Jews, then the Samaritans, and then those far off, the gentiles.

Not to be flippant, but it is worth observing that all people die. Unless I’m mistaken, Every single human who was born before 1900 - and I believe we’re talking billions, has succumbed to death in some form or another; whether diseases, wars, suicides, or whatever. It has been observed that the human mortality rate is around 100% thus far.

So again, not to be at all flippant, and with deepest respect to your genuine and heartfelt question, but we simply can’t ask why God allows some to live and allows others to die… rather, the only real question we can ask is why he allows some to die at a younger age than others. God “leaves all of us to die”, no?

I seem to recall hearing Tony Compolo, who observed that when Jesus healed the lepers, they presumably (eventually) died of something else. Jesus healed people of lameness, deafness, and blindness, and they all died as well. It has been observed that even those few people that God literally saved from death itself (the resurrection of Jairus’ daughter, of Lazarus, and others) are no longer with us… God literally rescued them from death itself by resurrecting them… and they died of something else.

In short, this entire world is corrupt, and every single person in it *will die of _something. Someone who God “saves” from COVID will die of something else. So with deepest respect to your original question, I’m not sure it reflects the real situation we find ourselves in. It isn’t that God saves some people from death, while others escape death, but rather, we all die, some earlier or more tragically than others, but God in fact doesn’t save any of us from death.

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That’s true. And none of us would even exist in material form on this planet of limited resources if it wasn’t for many many generations of death and birth before us.

It’s just, as you imply, not always something that helps in the moment. We have very different feelings at the funeral of an elderly person who died of old age than we would at the funeral of a child. I want to believe that God does intervene and save people from premature death. But at the same time, the implications of that are difficult to wrestle with as well… sometimes it seems more reasonable to chalk it up to “well, we all have free will…”

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Granted @Daniel_Fisher’s observation that humanity has a consistent 100% fatality rate, still … your question does have a sting that merits response: preventable tragedies do happen - causing early and tragic death and suffering for many.

I’ve wrestled with that too and can identify with your points. Doesn’t every praise for a blessing or a close-call averted or an apparent healing have “the shadow side” of all the same things to be countenanced in the silence of the many who did not make it? Even though answers may be far and few between to address this, there are at least some answers found from scriptures. One of them comes when Jesus lays to rest the notion that suffering is God’s inflicted judgment on the worst sinners. It isn’t that they aren’t sinners (or even that their sin may have contributed to theirs and others sufferings - perhaps it did in some cases). What Jesus comes down so hard on is the survivors’ desires to see their own apparent escape as a sign that they were somehow less sinful than those who didn’t escape. And he comes down like a ton of bricks on that lie.

I think there is something necessarily human about our provincial outlooks that are quick to celebrate our own and loved one’s blessings (ignoring the massive suffering still happening around the world as we do so) and then also mourning our own nearby sufferings (while ignoring the massive amounts of joy and celebration going on other places as we ourselves mourn). If suffering anywhere and everywhere is to always taken as a moral imperative to hold joy hostage until every last bit of suffering has been addressed, then there will never again be any joy or partying. And that just would not be healthy living of any kind and would seriously rob the sufferers even of any hope for a better future for themselves. It also ignores Jesus’ command to “mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice”. That imperative alone has a very provincially local outlook to it. We are to take stock of those immediately around us. They should have higher allegiance on our motivation at the moment that distant tragedies and turmoils.

Gotta run for now. Would enjoy discussing this more.

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@Vivi_O2 Your concerns are very appropriate and are really big issues, worthy of a long post. In response, this may be a long-ish answer. I’m not a theologian, just one who tends to be skeptical, and so I’ve kicked this same issue around (as most have) over the years.

We had a similar and very personal experience years ago, wherein it was the perfect opportunity for God to come through in a pinch and save the day. It was true life or death, and He did not do what we hoped and prayed that He would do. Despite that, my wife and I have a very strong faith and maintain a personal relationship with a loving and caring God. Here’s how I’ve dealt with this issue, and these answers may or may not be satisfying to you.

  1. People have always been evil, this is nothing new. This problem has existed from the very beginning and yet it still surprises us when we’re touched by it. In this world, we will have sorrow.
  2. God allows for free will, and free means free. That we do what we do and implications follow means that our decisions have significance, both good and bad. If God intervened every time that something was unfair would negate free will. Unfortunately, this means that the entire spectrum of good and evil is ever present.
  3. Our perspective is earth-based. We do not see things from God’s perspective until we join Him. This can be challenging, because there are truly terrible things that happen that we cannot imagine to be a legitimate means to an end. That we go to a place where there are no more tears, no more pain, no more suffering and no more terror, necessarily means that those all exist where we are now.
  1. I agree wholeheartedly with Laura, that God’s response (or lack of such) to prayer is not a gift to the good ones because they have earned it (nor a punishment for the bad, either.) I would suggest, rather, that Jesus healings (and those of his followers) were not really about the earthly need, but rather a sign of His greater purpose, which is our salvation. He will heal us (from death) if we have enough faith (in Him)… but that is for eternity, not for now. Jesus raised Lazarus (and many others, too) from the dead, but they all died in the end. That he is worthy and able to overcome death is the point, not that we will be saved from physical death.
  2. God the Father allowed his own Son to suffer similarly. Jesus considered it to be completely necessary. And thanks to Him for that!!

Many say, and I think that they are probably right about this, that the purpose of prayer is to draw us closer to God, not to draw God closer to us. To bring us to His will, and not Him to ours.

I have written more words about this, which also may or may not be helpful. The big issue may be our assumption that things should be “right” when the injustice of the situation seems to be so clear. Throughout scripture, though, this is not the case. It’s not what we’ve been promised.

I think of Jeremiah 29:11, which is so often quoted … “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” This is true, but it is completely out of context if it isn’t read with the prior verse. Here’s what 10-11 say:

10 “For thus says the Lord, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

It is wrong to read this passage and think that God’s plans don’t involve our pain, suffering, and sorrow.
They almost always do. After seventy years of exile in Babylon, God promises to fulfill his word to his people. Seventy years is a lifetime for many people, so many would have died in exile before the promise was unveiled. This is very important to understand if we hope to understand this text and this problem. Life here may be very tough… but there is an answer. God will fulfill his promise, after a lifetime of exile, and bring his people back home.

Apologies for the long reply. (EDIT: Somehow I missed Daniel’s reply and so I’ve echoed many things that he said, too.)

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I agree with @Daniel_Fisher’s comments about the reality of death for all human beings (and all other creatures, too), and I’d like to add a few other thoughts based on my own experience as a bereaved mother.

When my younger son was dying of leukemia at the age of 3, our family and friends and church members prayed and prayed and prayed, but the disease was intractable, and our son died.

We struggled with every question you could imagine, and probably some questions you could only imagine if you’ve lived through the death a young child who was greatly loved.

The bottom line is that I don’t feel sorry for myself. He died in 1989, and my grief has never gone away, but I don’t feel sorry for myself. I know that he’s with God and is therefore safe. I know that his time here was short, but that he lived with more courage and love in three years than many adults I’ve known who’ve lived into their 90’s. I know that his example of courage and love has sustained me and my older son (and probably my former husband, though I can’t say for sure on that score) for all the years since he died. I know that he suffered during his illness and treatment, but he never stopped trusting. I know that he broke my heart when he died, but in breaking my heart he eventually helped me find my way back to God.

God never forgets anyone. Ever. God is always with us. God doesn’t promise we’ll never suffer and God doesn’t promise we’ll never die. God only promises to always love us and always help us heal the pain when we reach out with our hearts in courage and trust.

I’ve seen many miracles since my son died. But it took me a long time to fully accept that God knew my son’s needs better than I knew them. I didn’t want to believe that God was wiser than I was, but now I trust God and realize that I’m very far from being in a position to judge God’s decisions. So I do the best I can to heal pain where I see it, and whatever I can’t help with, I hand over to other people or to God.

I see no other way to function as a human being.

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Perhaps the answers to the concerns you express include the idea that God may not see death as we see death.

Death is not the end. It is a transition.

We would all like to live longer, unless pain or other circumstances make living miserable.

But the eternal life that Jesus came to reveal is a gift that transcends physical death.

I don’t know why God heals some and does not heal others. But then I can’t be in possession of all the facts and interactions.

Two good friends of mine were killed. The information is here:

My friend Bud was a mountain man who was a helicopter gunner in Vietnam. His oldest daughter was in my Sunday School class. We spent a lot of time together. Bud did a great deal of charitable work through his “Forever Grateful” ministries. God healed Bud from a broken back, when he fell in his shed and landed on a hammer.

Bud and his wife were murdered when he went to buy a classic Mustang listed on Craigslist. I had just been shopping with him for such a car a week or two earlier.

Bud reached many more people in death with the tributes to his actions and life. His three lovely daughters were wonderful examples of forgiveness.

When I was shopping for cars with Bud a week or two before his death, I had no idea that his death would do so much to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others.

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The skeptic, atheist, and Deist says He doesn’t. There certainly is no proof that He does, and I don’t think there ever will be. But the theist and Christian says He does. So for this to be reasonable there must be considerable limits on how much and under what conditions God does save people. Nearly all the time God expects us to care enough that we save people ourselves. I think H.G. Wells was absolutely right in thinking that if somebody does everything for us then we will turn into sheep like the eloi of his story “Time Machine.” So if God saves anybody, then He only saves some people and not others.

God’s omnipotence does not mean that God can do whatever we say by whatever means we care to dictate. There all kinds of consequences, and I certainly think that the consequences of simply setting aside the laws of nature are too great for God to see any good reason for doing such a thing. Now as can be pointed out by many here, the laws of nature are rather probabilistic rather than absolute. But this does mean that we cannot expect miracles in numbers and extremes which ignore those probabilities. We cannot expect miracles by definition. If they are expected then they are not miracles but laws of nature. And the laws of nature are a necessity for life and reality… the very thing which makes this world we live in different from a dreamworld.

But why… can’t we just have the dreamworld? Who needs life and reality? We do. They are part of how we learn and grow. I would liken it to the limitations of the womb which provides a protected environment in which we can grow to prepare for the greater world beyond. And what does this world of natural law protect us from? From our own desires, frankly. For these are not only dangerous but they typically short-circuit the whole process of growth and learning when we experience frustration confronting the challenges of life.

He doesn’t. Not since the first couple of serial laying on of hands. Any claim to the contrary is cognitive bias easily proved by the stats; there is not a trace of divine intervention in them. He is neither weak nor cruel in the human sense. Nor loving.

Do you believe in God and say that he is not loving? Or do you not believe in God and therefore draw this conclusion? Because Jesus Christ is literally the personification of love.

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We really don’t know why God sometimes saves people and sometimes doesn’t. But we should acknowledge that we humans can do a better job. We rightly ask God why he lets these things happen, and he probably asks us why we let so much happen as well.

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God’s love and intervention are proven or disproven by stats. Sure they are.

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Blessings

by Laura Story

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

With lyrics:

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I’m not sure I’m reading you correctly. Are you saying humans can do a better job of saving people (or at least deferring death) than God? Wouldn’t that kind of be like saying that humans are smarter than God (if, indeed, that’s what you meant)?

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I think she is saying… better job than we do… not better job than God. The Bible makes it clear that most of the time God considers it OUR responsibility to save people. I don’t think alleviating us of this responsibility is good for anybody.

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No, you are not reading me correctly. I’m saying that humans can do a better job. Not better than God. Just better than what we are doing, at all levels of society. Because we let bad things happen. Look at the the spread of covid-19, the dismantling of our pandemic response team and the fools who refuse to wear a mask or socially distance.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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