Is God At Fault?
October 1, 2019
It was just an ordinary day at the rehabilitation facility. I walked in to room 121 like I always do and introduced myself to the elderly gentleman lying in bed. He opened his eyes and quickly closed them again. He didn’t speak a word. In fact, he acted as though I wasn’t even in the room.
Despite his obvious disinterest, I continued to speak. “Hi Ted. I am Amy from Physical Therapy. I am here to help you get moving again.” Slowly Ted opened his eyes. Without words, he nodded reluctantly in agreement.
We did some exercises in the bed before attempting to get out of it. It took a substantial amount of effort to get Ted’s cancer ridden body into the wheelchair beside his bed. But once seated comfortably, Ted opened up and offered me a minuscule glimpse into his life.
“They told me if I had laid there on the floor another 15 minutes, I would have died.”
“Really?” I rebutted. “I guess the Lord still has plans for you here,” I said nonchalantly.
Immediately, the walls that surrounded his hardened heart came up again. The cynical old man I met when I walked in the door was now staring me up and down.
“Oh, you are one of them,” he replied. “If there is a God, He must hate us. I mean… all the bad things He lets happen… You don’t really believe in God, do you?”
“Well… Yes… I do… I suppose I am one of them.” I said. “Not only do I believe God is real, I know He is good- no doubt about it. It isn’t His fault that bad things happen.”
“Oh really,” Ted responded.
Not wanting to get into a debate with this frail gentleman, I began to shy away from the conversation. “I could certainly talk to you about my faith all day, but I wouldn’t want you to think I was pushing my beliefs on you. Is there anything else that I can do for you before I leave Ted?” I said.
“Yes.” he responded. “You can get me a glass of water. And… when you bring it back, I will let you tell me your thoughts.”
A number of ideas rushed through my mind. Of course, there were so many things I wanted to say. But how would I be able to answer His questions in the few short minutes I had. And… if I was indeed able to answer them, would I be able to articulate what he needed to hear? I was skeptical… Was there anything I could say that would make a difference? I mean, Ted clearly knew what he believed: God did not exist; And if I could somehow convince him that He did exist, this man was was certainly not going to be interested in serving Him.
Or was he?…
I offered up a quick prayer to the Lord as I fixed him a glass of water. “Lord, help me to help Ted. Give me the right words to say.”
When I walked back into the room I addressed his question with one of my own. “Do you believe Beethoven was a brilliant musician?… If a young child butchered his music on the piano during a recital, would that make Beethoven any less of a great musician?” I asked. “Certainly you would blame Beethoven for the child’s poor performance, would you?”
With only a moment to contemplate the question, I shot another scenario at him.
“What if I thought you should have died while you were on the floor the other day. So instead of helping you get better, I ‘played God.’ What if I walked out to the medicine cabinet and gave you a deadly dose of sedative while you were asleep? Would it be God’s fault that you died? Or would it be the evil in my heart, carried out by my hands, that caused your death?”
“Ted… God is the great musician. We are the ones who make mistakes. God isn’t at fault for His children being evil any more than Beethoven is at fault for someone playing his music poorly. God gave each of us a free will.”
I began to sense a shift taking place in Ted’s demeanor. For the first time since I entered the room, I felt like maybe, just maybe… Ted’s heart was softening.
“Ted,” I said… “Whether you believe in Jesus or evolution, both take faith. Personally, it is easier for me to believe that a God who loves me formed the world, than that all of this we see just ‘proliferated’ into existence. Plus… If I am wrong, at worst, I have lived a good life being kind to others.” (Pause) “The way I see it, If I am wrong, I have ‘wasted’ nothing,’” I continued. “Ted, if you ever decide you want to make Jesus your Lord, all you have to do is pray and invited him in. It’s not nearly as difficult as we make it.”
Ted interrupted, “Well, I don’t even know how to pray.”
“Sure you do. You are talking to me, aren’t you? All prayer is- is talking to God, the way we are talking now.”
Again, Ted interrupted, “I wouldn’t know what to say.”
“Well, if you would like… I mean… If you want to pray now, I can pray and you can just repeat the words I say.”
“Yes. Yes. I want you to pray,” Ted said.
Then, there in the room with the rest of the world completely unaware, Ted repeated words after me and invited Jesus to be the Lord of his life.
I don’t remember Ted’s real name. I don’t know when he died -or- if his family ever knew about the prayer we prayed. But, I do know that a number of people played a role in his decision: Ted’s parents took him to church everyday as a child. A number of relatives had been praying for him for years. The bartender from the bar he frequented had been talking to him about Jesus for months. And most recently, his oncologist had given him a Bible and suggested he read it. So many people sewed into Ted’s life; people who acted as the hands and feet of Jesus.
1 Corinthians 3:6-7, 9, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives growth… For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.”
I don’t know where you are in your walk with Jesus or how readily you share your faith with others, but I want to encourage you… A simple statement of God’s goodness can start a conversation that can change lives.
Even the hardest of hearts are not beyond his reach.