The God Who Can

Why is his [Rabbi Kushner’s When Bad Things Happen to Good People] book so popular? I think it is because it provides a kind of solution to the problem that everyone who believes in God in some way feels. God can be a friend without being in any way responsible for our suffering, either by action or by inaction. Kushner’s God is accessible, lovable, friendly—a god to whom we can relate as someone who shares our predicament of suffering and powerlessness. In his system, prayer does not change things; it only changes us. Religion makes us sensitive to other people’s pain and gives us the strength to get through the suffering by affirming our self-worth…What good is a God who cannot do anything but wring his hands and sympathize?…The biblical writers prayed to a sovereign who can remedy the situation. Even Jesus in his agony prayed to God, knowing that the issue was not one of God’s power, but of his will: “Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Dan G. McCartney, Why Does It Have to Hurt?, p. 19.

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