God is Not Your Magic Genie
God is NOT your magic genie in a bottle. I hope that isn’t news to you. I’m afraid that some people think He is and I’ve been ruminating on it.
What brought this on, Elizabeth?
I have an online friend who has been a missionary in another country for many years. A few days ago my friend and her son were kidnapped. My friend was released very quickly, but her son was held overnight. As soon as my friend was let go she asked people to pray for her son’s safe release.
The next day, the kidnapper ended his demands for ransom and let the boy go. He was physically unharmed, and the kidnapper even called to make sure he made it safely home.
And now? Now I see people saying that the prayers “worked.” I see that attitude often. People pray, something good happens, and that means the prayers “worked.”
It almost sounds like God is their own personal magic genie. In a bottle. You know what I mean? The master rubs the bottle and makes a wish. The genie is the slave, and he pops out and does what he’s told.
Now, I don’t think my friend’s attitude is “of course God saved him because we all prayed” but I think it’s the attitude of some of the people who prayed.
What would these people be saying if our friend’s son had been killed?
Sometimes you pray and it doesn’t “work.” God doesn’t do what you tell Him to do. God allows bad things to happen. Hundreds of people may pray, but awful things happen anyway.
So? That’s life, right?
Yes, that’s life. The problem is what happens when someone believes in the Magic Genie God™ (MGG) and He doesn’t deliver. There are people and churches out there who get mad at the victim when MGG doesn’t show up. They will tell you that your faith isn’t strong enough and that’s why your child died.
Or they will start questioning you, looking for the hidden sin in your life. Because if you were really living the right way, MGG would heal your disease, increase your income, and make your life rainbows and fairy sparkles.
That’s not who God is. That’s not how He works.
I am absolutely convinced that God told me to marry my ex-husband. And it was a really bad marriage. I prayed for my marriage to get better. It didn’t.
God is not my magic genie, and He’s not yours. He does not pop out of a bottle at your command and fix your problems.
And now we’re back to that eternal question: If God is good, then why do bad things happen?
Some people say that of course God is good, but he isn’t powerful enough to stop bad things. I believe that God IS powerful enough to do whatever the heck He wants to do. If He wasn’t, then He wouldn’t be God.
So, all I’m left with is a God who is powerful and He causes/allows bad things to happen. And what do I do with that?
I choose to believe that God is good anyway. I choose to believe that I don’t have the total picture, and I can’t even determine what’s “good” and what’s not-good.
But I still struggle.