How to Respond to "God Isn't Fixing This"
Liz Kanoy What topic related to Christianity, faith, and the Bible is trending online and in social media today?
- Updated Dec 07, 2015
There has been a recent trend of “prayer shaming” directed toward politicians and people of faith who post on social media that the victims and victims’ families of recent tragedies are in their thoughts and prayers. Some news outlets have even said in response, “God isn’t fixing this.” Justin Taylor, executive vice president of book publishing for Crossway, has written an article titled “God Isn’t Fixing This” Andy Crouch’s Pitch-Perfect Response for The Gospel Coalition.
Taylor references Andy Crouch’s, Christianity Today executive editor, response to the critique. Certain media and news outlets have written that politicians and people of faith should be taking action rather than posting about prayer. These skeptics do not believe that prayer is tied to action, but Taylor and Crouch believe differently.
Taylor lists some of Crouch’s main points in his response to “God Isn’t Fixing This”:
1. Expressing Empathy Does Not Require Fresh Words
1.a. When news of a tragedy reaches us, almost all of us find our thoughts overwhelmed for minutes, hours, or days, depending on the scope, severity, and vividness of the loss. This is called empathy—our ability to put ourselves in the place of others and imagine their suffering and fear, as well as heroism and courage, and to wonder how we would react in their place.
1.b. Almost all human beings, whatever their formal religious affiliation, find themselves caught up in a further reaction to tragedy: reaching out to a personal reality beyond themselves, with grief, groaning, and petition for relief...
1.c. Unless the tragedy is literally at our door, this empathic response—call it “thoughts and prayers”—is all that is available to us in the moments after terrible news reaches us...
2. Prayer for Sudden Tragedy is more about Lament than Asking God to Fix Something
2.a. To offer prayer in the wake of tragedy is not, except in the most flattened and extreme versions of populist Christianity, to ask God to “fix” anything...
2.b. An equally valid and instinctive form of prayer in the face of tragedy is lament, which calls out in anguish to God, asking why the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer...
2.c. No honest accounting of history can deny that God, if there is a God, is terrifyingly patient with evil. And yet, over and over, astonishing goodness, holiness, and reconciliation have emerged from even the most heinous acts of violence...
3. Prayer and Action are Not Opponents or in Competition with Each Other
3.a. To suggest that we should act (though usually without specifying how those of us not physically present could act in the immediate wake of tragedy or terror), instead of pray, therefore, is to ask us to deny our capacity for empathy.
3.b. At the same time, the Bible makes it clear that God despises acts of outward piety or sentimentality that are not matched with action on behalf of justice...
3.c. Therefore we must never settle for a false dichotomy between prayer and action, as if it were impossible to pray while acting or act while praying...
3.d. To insist that people should act instead of pray, or that we should act without praying, is idolatry, substituting the creature for the Creator...
4. It is Not Wrong to Say that the Victims are in Our Thoughts and Prayers
4. Therefore the victims of the shootings in San Bernardino, and all those who were caught up in the violence and live this very moment in its awful continuing reality and consequences, and also those who perpetrated the violence, are in our thoughts and prayers.
The most important points are that humans will react to tragedy (many times by seeking a divine source even if they are not Christian), it is not wrong to post that we are praying for victims of tragedies, and if we do post something like that it should be because we have actually prayed for them rather than just typing it.
If you’re not sure how to pray in times of tragedy, read 3 Prayers to Pray in Light of the Attacks on Paris by Crosswalk.com Contributor Brad Russell. He shares 3 types of prayer: for God’s comfort and peace, for His justice, and for His mercy. Russell writes,
Father of comfort and peace,
Your presence is our peace and comfort. Your nearness is our hope. Many are brokenhearted today. Draw near and bring them comfort and peace. BUt many of those who are hurting today can know no real comfort today, not only because of their immense temporal loss, but because they do not know You. Today families are grieving without hope. Lord, draw near to them in the crushed spirits. Bring believers with the Gospel into their lives to speak grace, truth, love and eternity into their hopeless hearts. Bring them to hope even today, Lord.
Liz Kanoy is an editor for Crosswalk.com.
Publication date: December 7, 2015