His Eye Is On The Sparrow?

cwt edtJesus

Okay…

The other day a ‘man’ set fire to a litter of kittens.

Remember the drug addict who sold her toddler for drugs? The child was raped and killed?

What about the parents who left their toddler in a blazing hot car to die…on purpose?

What about the millions of animals boiled and skinned alive so someone can look ‘good?’

How about the airline recently shot out of the sky?

His eye is on the sparrow, but not on these subjects?

 

Help Me Out Here!

School me.

Is this old gospel song more symbolic nice words that at the core don’t really mean anything?

How would you clarify this simplistic query of religion and faith to an alien if you had to?

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Lyrics: His Eye Is On The Sparrow

Why should I feel discouraged
Why should the shadows come
Why should my heart feel lonely
And long for heaven and home

When Jesus is my portion
A constant friend is he
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know he watches over me
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know he watches me

 

 

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150 thoughts on “His Eye Is On The Sparrow?

  1. Evil entered this world at the beginning when humanity decided to follow his/her own will. I am outraged when I hear stories like this…especially the one about the drug addict who sold her 4 month old to be a sex slave to a pedophile. If only I could have a minute in a room with her. Only a minute. And the disgusting creature who did this to the little one. I have no mercy towards pedophiles and I do not believe they see the Kingdom of Heaven. That is my opinion. My husband defers as a student of the Bible. But he also sees my bitterness, anger, outrage, and that I would be a pedophile annihilator in secret (merciless) if I was single. All I can do right now is protect my little one and any children I’m responsible for.

    Evil is everywhere. That was the consequence from the beginning and that’s why there are brighter days in Heaven for those who believe. It’s hard to take it in. Trust me, I’ve had my battles, especially with those who harm children. Thank God that He freely gives mercy and grace!!!!! Sin is sin. But when it comes to senseless acts toward children, I tend to classify them in a whole different category. Now, who am I to do that? We are in a wretched world. That’s why Heaven is what we need to thirst for.

  2. Reblogged this on Light for this step and commented:
    I wanted to respond to this blog entry because I believe many people ask this same question at some point in their lives. I do not question God as some do; I believe that He is not the originator of chaos, pain or confusion. He is not to be blamed for these things. We live in a sinful world where we have each been given free will to choose a live of love in Christ or a life lost in disobedience to the will of God. Sometimes we do everything “right” and still bad things happen, but they are not sent from God. In these situations we are held by His mighty right hand and given all we need to weather the storms of life. Even in the hardest of circumstances. He is our Savior no matter what happens in this life. He is the One and only Hope of survival that we can cling to when the winds and waves of life knock us around. His is the hand that lifts us when we are at our lowest, gently dries our tears and soothes away our sobs. His the voice that speaks peace to an aching heart, His the love that will not leave us! Sometimes He uses His people to reach out in ministry just by being present with us. In this world we will have trouble, but thanks to God’s complete love for us, we will never have to face it alone! He has promised never to leave us! God keeps His promises!
    In the words of a song by Laura Story:
    What if your blessings come through rain drops
    What if your healing comes through tears
    What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know you’re here?
    What if trials of this life
    The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
    Are your mercies in disguise?
    http://laurastorymusic.com
    Pain is never pointless

  3. I’ve enjoyed reading through these comments – I’m sorry if I missed one and what I say is repetitive. I’m pretty passionate about this topic myself, but my perspective is more from God working in nature and physics, which I don’t think would add to this discussion congruently. What I noticed reading through this article and the comments is that happiness keeps coming up as a measure of God’s goodness; with that perspective, God definitely fails at being a good God. Just look at the book of Job. There is way too much suffering to think God is good if the goal of creation was happiness. But the conclusion I’ve reached is that if God is a good and present God, which I believe he is, then happiness is not the goal. What if God isn’t happy – what if he is sad with us. I think he suffers; if he loves us, he hurts when we hurt. He is angry when we are wronged. An example of this is his compassion for the Israelites when they were enslaved in Egypt, or Jesus crying at the death of his friend Lazarus. This is what I’ve come to believe about God: since Genesis, he has strived for a loving relationship with his creation. And while I don’t understand why he would choose to hurt with us instead of always saving the day, it comforts me that he isn’t turning a blind eye to our suffering. We hurt in community with God.

    1. “We hurt in community with God.” But how do you know this?
      Okay he helped the Israelites in Egypt, but what about the Jews in Germany in the 1930’s?

      How can it comfort you that He ‘isn’t turning a blind eye to our suffering’ if you can’t prove that He isn’t?

      I don’t know if the goal of creation was happiness I’m just asking what the funk is wrong with being happy and expecting to be and hoping that your Pops the most powerful being in the world could sort it out for you?

      And then if we have to also consider a perfect omnipotent being as being unhappy too what chance is there for us?!! 😯

      If He is angry when we are wronged then could He just stop it already? Imagine being raped and your Father standing by watching saying ‘Wow! This is making me soooo angry! Anyways, see you tomorrow?’

      1. The main point I was trying to make was the presence of suffering does not necessarily mean the absence of God. I don’t know why God doesn’t always act, and I wish I understood. No one can prove that God isn’t turning a blind eye, and no one can prove that he is. I don’t think everything that happens is a reflection of his action or inaction. I think he made a creation that acts on its own will, and there are lots of times when creation makes cruddy choices, and I think that upsets God. I mean, he cared enough to make it in the first place.

        The Bible says that God cares about the poor and oppressed. He also says that there will be suffering. Because of this, I have to come to the conclusion that both truths can exist simultaneously: he always cares, but there is still pain – a pain he chooses to experience out of love for us.

        I started believing these things as someone who has experienced tragedy and injustice and things I couldn’t believe that God would ignore. The comfort I find in believing God still cares even when things are going poorly is that God is still in relationship with me. Being in relationship doesn’t mean solving everyone’s problems. For example, just because I have a good relationship with my parents doesn’t mean I want them to pay my rent or fight my battles. When awful things happened to me, I don’t think God responded with “I’m so angry, sorry about that, see you later.” You’re right – good fathers don’t do that. But good fathers also let children learn from their struggles and defend themselves from time to time. Which sucks, but it’s out of love. I know it’s not a perfect answer, but it’s what I’ve come to while wrestling with this issue.

  4. I think the sentiment that the Christian who wrote the song was attempting to express was that even when terrible things happen they believe that their deity is watching over them and that they will not be given more to deal with than they can bear. Even though they face terrible things such as you have mentioned, they feel that their soul is safe in “His” hands because they believe in his love for them.

    Add to that, the fact that back when the song was written, more than a century ago, very few items such as the ones you mentioned were highly publicized as in today’s so-called “news” to titillate the other sickos in our societies, as they are today. As such, if and when they occurred they were known of only by “locals” who would not speak openly of them other than to strictly condemn them. As such the nutcases who committed acts such as these were dealt with swiftly and harshly, instead of being tried and placed in a privately owned prison complex where they have access to college level schooling, cable TV free of charge, with nutritionists, doctors and dentists on staff and spend decades on the taxpayers dime.

      1. LOL I am betting that from your comment, you are just as fond of our current prison systems as I am. I would like to see a return to the days of “hard labor” where the prisoners are in charge of growing their own fruits and vegetables, tending to animals, and doing other worthwhile jobs while incarcerated so they can learn to be better humans and make better choices when they get out. Instead, they are set up as rented out “call center workers”, defense contractors “hire them” to work on components for fighter jets, helicopter and missile systems. Just lovely!

      2. So much of that disgusts me about society. Just one example? Non law breaking tax payers who fought for their country who are unable to afford to heat their homes or barely eat while we pay for criminals to live the life of riley with warmth, technology, entertainment, protection and full bellied comfort. Sick really.

      3. I am sooooooooo in agreement re: the prison systems! Our vets and families and our elderly deserve all that help and money that goes to coddle people who freely chose to commit terrible crimes. What a punishment . . . 3 squares, free rent – dental – hospitalization – education – entertainment clothing – and on and on! They probably have a lot better computer equipment and gadgets than a lot of us . . . FREE. Aahhhhhhhhhhh ! Or as you would say, Grrrrrrrrrrr.

  5. I agree with much of what the others say about having a free will and God having a purpose and plan for everything, but also think about that: that song was written from a believer’s perspective. They’re basically saying God loves and cares for the sparrows (who do what they’re purposed for in the Kingdom of God), so they know that God will take care of them if they do what God has purposed them for, too.

  6. The bible talks about God who did not spare his own son but rather offered him on our behalf as an atonement for our sins shows us that this God is not only a God of love, mercy, and compassion, but also of justice, wrath and judgement. The rejection of God is why he had to send his son to reconcile us back to him. For example, if you have a child who you love completely, offer them the best and try your best to protect them from harm, danger and mistakes. Your child rejects your warnings, advice and wisdom to your dismay. As much as you would love to jump in and prevent every bad decision, you can’t and won’t. Interfering against their will, will destroy any possibilities of a repaired, honest relationship. Instead, you stay close enough to comfort and anticipate the moment when they turn to you for help. This is the God I believe in. It was his will to commune and have a honest, loving relationship between creator and created. If not he could have created mindless servants. We were created in his image to share in his power not to be dominated and ruled. The devil is the “prince of this world” due to our rejection or exile of God. His promise to Noah to never to do just what is being asked of him here–override free will and rid us of evil simply because he can. It is perfectly normal to debate, ask questions and know why you believe what you believe. This week the memory verse my children and I have been discussing is 1Peter 3:15 “honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” I’m teaching with the theme that they are secret agents or detectives. My encouragement to them is to Discover God(who, what, when, where, why), Decide(do you accept this as truth), Defend(share why you believe and defend your stand). I will leave you with one final thought. The bible says that it is not God’s will that any man should perish. It is his plan to satisfy us with long life, abundant living with a promise to prosper us and give us a hope and a future. It is up to us to surrender to his plan and not our own.

  7. Yep. “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

    1. Does make you think that for all the interpretations about God giving us free will to do as we please otherwise we would be robots…He is meant to be ominpotent. He could make us all safe and happy in one fell swoop. No questions asked. No robot behaviour. No waiting until the end of time. Just happy and safe. Now. After all surely He knew what He created?

      1. Begging the pardon of any who might consider this blasphemous, but why is it a natural assumotion that the Creator, or God, if you will, surely knew what he(?) created? Is it not possible that once the creation left the bosom of eternity, its sense of perfection somehow disappeared? After all, the only true knowledge we have, other than that which lies within our souls’ memories, was delivered to-and understood by-human minds. At some point I believe that man’s need for an omnipotent creator to save him, to help him, to blame when things went wrong, won out over his own understanding of his power within creation. We have assigned an awful lot to God and spend a lot of time waiting around for his help. Just my thoughts.

      2. If I have understood you fully I would assume He knew what He created because He is God. To not know would be to assume He got it all wrong, misjudged His creation. This would suggest He is not perfect after all which goes against what I at least was taught.
        If He is wrong about that, what else has He got wrong!?

      3. It sounds like dweezer19 is proposing deism rather than theism. As an atheist, I see either as equally likely (that is: not likely at all).

  8. One aspect of Christianity that appears still undiscussed is the facet of humanity living in a battleground where those on God’s side fight against the world’s great terrorist (Satan). If we live on a battlefield and don’t always listen to what God has to say (our marching orders), we can end up helping the terrorist…or we can end up getting hurt.

    As to whether God could have set it up so that no one ever experienced pain, He certainly could have. However, if we knew that, no matter what we did, God would protect us, and if we tried to do evil, God would stop us, we would be kept people, unable to do anything but what He wanted us to do. You suggested that He could have made it so that we would not be aware of this keeping, but how do you know that? It may not be possible to create a being in the Divine image that is at the same time not rational enough to realize that its actions are being controlled or at the least hindered by the Divine Being Himself. The very nature of Divinity may prevent such an arrangement from even being an option.

      1. No, He is omnipotent, but according to scripture, He never changes (presumably, He cannot modify His own divine make-up, by choice). This being the case, He may have only two options: to make humanity in His image, with its incumbent free choice, or to make them in some other image or pattern.

        I think it would be impossible to make us partakers of the divine nature without the rationality and awareness that causes us to eventually discover whether or not we truly have free choice, and at which point, I believe we would be unhappy when we discovered we were just pawns.

  9. Life was hard back in the day when all this stuff was written. I think the quote is “Nasty, Brutal, and Short”. People needed reassurance that something better could be achieved. We humans are the only creatures we know of who are aware of our own mortality – not just in the moment of death, but for years before the event. Most of our cultural fixations have been on that fact – though many are thinly disguised.

    There seems to be a strong desire to have a kind of super parent (mommy or daddy – depending on your inclination) who promises, if we’ll be good boys and girls we’ll get a treat.

    The problem is – these super beings never speak to any of us directly. Instead, there are always other humans – people who wield power and status, people who make their living being the spokespersons for these beings. It is those people who assure us that “everything will be alright”.

    If I tried to sell you a used car, you’d likely check me out thoroughly – knowing that my primary interest would likely be my own profit and well-being over yours. But these “spokespeople” sell much less tangible stuff every day – for money – make no mistake of that – and no one seems to feel any inclination to ensure they are not slippery or deluded.

    So, there’s no doubt that the old song doesn’t stand real scrutiny – almost none of the stuff that is sanctioned by the institutions that claim to have a pipeline to the supernatural does.

    1. I have to disagree that these “super beings” don’t speak to us directly. In fact, I know they do. It’s just that we have yet to understand the language of their words. We expect God to speak to us like he did with Moses or Noah, a voice from the clouds that commands us. When, in reality our own lives are filled with their message, and yet we don’t recognize it, because it is so clear, so plain, so simple, it’s easily overlooked.

      1. True. One of my favourite sayings is ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ Whether you believe in God or not, we often miss the messages of nature (or other) around us because few people today know silence and stillness.

  10. When I hear questions like this about “Why would God let this happen?”, I am always drawn to Matthew 13:24-29. This parable compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a man who sows his field with wheat from good seeds, but while his servants are asleep, his enemy sows weeds in the same field. The servants ask their Master if they should pull up the weeds, and he says no. Rationalizing that if he sent them out to pull the weeds, they may also damage the wheat. Not wanting to lose any of the wheat, he allows the weeds to be among them until the harvest. At that time, the weeds are separated and burned, and the wheat is brought into the barn.
    Ask yourself this, if nothing bad ever happened in the world, who then would stand up as Champion for the good? I’ve known people who have survived violent situations in their lives, and because of what they went through, they found ways to be of service to others that they never would have imagined was possible before.
    If you believe God has a plan for each of us, but he also affords us the choice of Free Will, then at times in our lives, we will deviate from that plan. And when we deviate, he sends reminders into our lives to help us get back on track. If we don’t pay attention to the initial reminders, perhaps we might need a little bigger reminder.
    Now, I’m not saying that these two girls were so far off their given path at their age that God had to cause this to happen to bring them back on track. However, he may have allowed this to happen as a wake-up call for their parents, or society at large, or even to help break the heart of the perpetrator himself.
    In the same chapter of Matthew, in an earlier verse, Jesus quotes Isaiah by saying, “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes…”
    For those of us who are already on a Spiritual Path in life, we might not need reminders of this magnitude to wake up. We may, in various levels, already be awake. But for those who are still asleep, those who still have calloused hearts, the message must be much louder. God doesn’t want only a few grains of wheat in his barn come harvest time. He wants the weeds to become wheat before the harvest starts.

    1. …or He could just let us all be happy. We sound a bit like pawns in a game from your description to be honest and it sounds elitist to suggest that those on a spiritual path already might not be subject to equal punishing reminders of who is Boss. Is God elitist then? What about those with no biblical teaching?
      What say you Michael? (and thanks for your thoughtful comment BTW).

      1. You bring up some good points, and these are arguments I have heard many times, from myself (in my earlier days) and others. Let me start with “…or He could just let us all be happy.” The argument against this is that there are as many paths to happiness as there are individuals. If we are created with Free Will and the ability to make choices in life, then we each will view happiness as something different. Let me put it this way, two people enter a room for a day long conference. One just came from outside, where the temperature is already 95 degrees, and since the A/C in his car is broke, he is sweltering. He can’t wait to get into the coolness of an air-conditioned room. The second just came from having breakfast at the local diner, where he was seated underneath the A/C unit which was on full blast, and he is freezing. He’s looking for a jacket and is hoping the room will be warm. So, let me ask, what temperature would the room need to be for both to be happy?
        Next – being pawns in a game. The first argument here is to determine if we do in fact have Free Will, that we get to choose our path in life. If not, then you’re right, we are all pawns. But if we do, then the next question must be if we were created for a purpose, or if everything is just random and there is no order in life. Yet everywhere we look there is order. Spring follows Winter which follows Autumn which follows Summer. Death follows birth. The oceans tides can be measured and predicted. The path of the planets in the heavens. Almost everything we know is based on a purpose and an order. I choose to believe that I was created for a reason, that my life means something, that this isn’t just a lucky break. And if that’s the case, then wouldn’t the God who created me want to see my live out that purpose? Wouldn’t He want to coax me along to that path? I know, as a parent, that I have wanted certain things for my children in their life. But I also know that those are my wants and desires, and not theirs. That they need to find their own way in the world. However, when they are going down a path that I know is detrimental to their well being, or is a definite mistake, don’t I have some right to step in and suggest something else? God does the same thing. Just because he wants us to waken from our dream and realize our part in His creation, doesn’t mean he won’t let us ignore him our entire lives. It’s our choice to follow in His path or not, otherwise, we don’t have Free Will and we are just pawns.
        Next – the part about those on a spiritual path not being ‘punished’. I don’t believe I suggested that at all. What I stated was, those who are on a spiritual path understand that there will be ups and downs. Let me tell you what I’ve experienced in just this past year. I lost a well paying job, I had to use all of my savings and retirement accounts to survive, even with that extra money, my house went into foreclosure, during this time one of my children attempted suicide, I started a new business only to struggle to keep it afloat, and I’ve dealt with health problems of my own. So, if that’s what you mean by ‘punished’, then yeah, I’ve had my share this year. But because of my spiritual development, I have come to recognize WHY all of these things are happening, at times in the exact moment they are happening. I lost my job because I was super complacent in and not growing – I wasn’t living up to my full potential. So God took that away as a reminder that life is about change and growth, not about getting comfortable. I used all of my savings and retirement accounts because I had let my lifestyle get way out of control against my ability to support it. And God has asked me to trust in Him to provide, which He as down. Miracle after miracle have occurred in my life to help me keep food on the table and my families basic needs met. My home went into foreclosure because I simply needed to learn to appreciate the things I had in life. I had become to caught up in living up to society’s standards. I had to learn that life isn’t about what we have, it’s about who we are and how we serve others. In the moment I learned that my daughter had attempted suicide, I heard a small voice say “This is her struggle, not yours. She is protected.” Turns out the pills she took had as much chance of her turning into a unicorn as they did in ending her life. But what she learned from that struggle changed who she is as a person forever. Within just a few weeks after, a good friend of hers went through a similar experience to the one that caused my daughter to seek a quick solution, allowing my daughter to do exactly what she needed to do to get her friend the help she required. Had my daughter not experienced that level of pain herself, she might not have had the strength to support her friend in her need. And the business I attempted failed because my purpose in life is not in alignment with what that business did. Again, I was taking the easy way out, looking for a way to pay bills and someday retire instead of facing my true calling, going out into the world and playing the part I was born to play. So it’s not that those on a spiritual path don’t face challenges, in fact once your foot is on that path, the challenges will intensive and increase. There’s the saying that God doesn’t give you any problem without also giving you the strength to overcome it. Think of it like going to the gym for the first time in years. Once you set your mind on getting back in shape, the only way to build stronger muscles is to tear apart the one’s you currently have. The same in our lives. The only way to become stronger spiritually is to face situations that have the power to tear us apart. And by overcoming those, we gain our strength.
        Lastly, let’s not mix spirituality with religion here. They are two different things. To say ‘no biblical teaching’ means the only path to spirituality or to God is through the Bible. Although that is a great resource and a perfect place to start, it’s not the doorway to heaven. Jesus himself said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” He also quoted quite a few scriptures in his day as well, as a reference to help people understand something else he was saying. Think of it this way, do people need to have scientific training for gravity to have an effect on them? Aren’t there powers alive in our world that operate at levels beyond anyone’s understanding? Why can’t spirituality be one of those?
        I apologize if this reply was a bit long. And I hope we can continue this dialogue. Speaking to others of like mind is something that I enjoy greatly. I look forward to your response.

      2. A beautiful reply Michael. You have me at a disadvantage as when you get a certain amount of comments it is not so straightforward to retrace the original thread on some of them beyond a threshold, so I cannot remember what I said fully, particularly as I proactively practice not keeping information in my head. Regardless of what I said, the one thing I do recognize is the strength that faith, religion, spirituality or whatever anyone chooses to call it gives them. Which can’t be a bad thing. Your interpretation of what happened to you this year could equally be interpreted many other ways, (free will! 🙂 ), but if that helps you get through another day it’s a good thing – and sorry for your tribulations, what a stinker, to put it mildly. – If I find my previous answer I can pick up on your points more specifically, because I’m not so sure that I said that those on a spiritual path are not punished, because I don’t remember YOU saying that either which is what I was responding to! If I remember well your original comment had a slightly different slant to it, but hey, semantics.

        “Aren’t there powers alive in our world that operate at levels beyond anyone’s understanding?” I personally have always thought so.
        “Why can’t spirituality be one of those?” Oh absolutely.
        With my rusty memory concerning your last paragraph I would have to agree with you. (Bad Editor! Of course there would be many paths to a heaven / God! 🙂 )
        Thanks Michael. A good debate! 🙂

  11. God is fair and just, but this world sure isn’t. We live in a fallen world–fallen nearly to Hell, or so it seems on some days. It sure isn’t the world God designed. In a lot of ways it might be fair to say we are drastically failing this “human experiment.” I think it’s the mercy of God the Earth still spins.

    Even absolute power cannot produce love. That’s what God hopes for, and He has a lot more patience than I do.

    Thanks for getting this song stuck in my head. 🙂 And for following my blog. So far it’s you and my mom. Lol.

      1. Hey, BTW, didn’t they try the whole Omnipotent, make your world a perfect place thing in a movie once? I believe it was called The Truman Show. And you saw how that ended….

      2. My point is that humans, by their very nature, would rebel against anything controlling their every move, even if it was to make things “perfect”. And I guess God being perfect and what perfection actually is is subject to interpretation and influence. Since there is no official dossier on God, we can only go by the attributes and expectations we have assigned to It.

  12. Since others have already provided an explanation of the origination of the line “His eye is on the sparrow” I won’t bother going over that. First off, I would like to say that even though I believe in God, I do not believe that a belief in a supernatural being means that the world will be without suffering. People often say, well a good God wouldn’t let these horrible things happen, so I conclude there is no God. There are many excerpts out of the Bible (and I’m also assuming other holy books) that warn of the suffering and horrible things that will happen during this lifetime. (Of course, if you are not particularly religious, holy texts will not be a particularly compelling argument to you). It is my personal opinion, because of the horrible things that happen in life, that one has to have hope that there is something out there larger than life itself. (Of course, others will also disagree with this and say that wishful thinking does not equal belief or reality). Overall, there will always be much back and forth on this topic, but I do think it is beneficial to both parties to understand how the other thinks.

      1. I believe that it’s probably because of the idea of “eternal salvation”. In several religions, suffering in this lifetime is justified because its followers will eventually have a place in “eternal paradise”. Of course, there’s some people who see the fallacy in this argument, in that we have no tangible proof that this place exists. There’s also the idea in more traditional religions that the more hardships or trials one endures, the closer they are to enlightenment. These type of people would be living ascetic lifestyles, in which they deny themselves superfluous material items, and even food/water/sleep. And the counterargument to that would be to say that these people are experiencing hallucinations because of the lack of nutrients haha.

      2. It’s been a lovely discussion actually Zot Zot. Some veeeeeeeeeery long posts and some short points made and I have read every word…even if I had to go and get a sandwich first! Quite unusual for a theological debate! It didn’t really matter if I agreed or disagreed. It made me think and re-think and gave others a chance to state their piece. Good stuff!

    1. I was interested – your comment prompted me to have a look at what a variety of faiths have to say about suffering.

      On a quick survey, the Koran seems to say that the answer is to emigrate to a better place, a more just and fair (Islamic) society. It seems to assume that suffering is because of oppression. But it doesn’t seem to wrestle with the big-picture problem of evil in quite the same way. (Or if it does and I missed it, I hope someone else will jump in).

      Of course, the first tenet of Buddhism is that “All life is suffering.” So, as a Zen monk once told me, the Buddhist answer to suffering is more or less, “Suck it up, princess.”

      Hinduism does not posit God/s as creators or all powerful, and so the problem is for them different (and generally relegated to a discussion of karma).

      I’m not expert in contemporary Paganism, but did find a comment that the situation is different in polytheism because there is no one ultimate authority. The holy powers can have conflicting agendas. Paganism, as a path which is striving to be in harmony with the rhythms of life (says the guy I was reading), says that when you’re suffering, you’re out of balance and somehow doing it wrong; it’s time to reassess your alignment with the Gods and your current governing philosophies and practices.

      (I’ve left Judaism out because I could discuss Jewish text, but as shared text between Jews and Christians I would always read it Christian-ly and not do a Jewish take on it justice, I think).

      So I’m not sure that there really is a universal response to suffering at all. Perhaps the only universal is that we all suffer.

      1. Interesting! Thanks for the info. I guess the theme of constant suffering in the world is more prevalent in Christianity than other religions. It would probably be more correct to state that Christians are warned that following Christ will lead to suffering. Matthew 10:22, “You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.” I’m curious if this theme is also prevalent in other world religions. That is, “Follow my religion! PS: You’re going to be persecuted for following me”.

        As you mentioned, Buddhism believes that “life is suffering”. (I’m not too familiar with Buddhism, but from what I know of it, it is more a “lifestyle” than a “religion”. I have heard others claim that you do not necessarily have to believe in a God to be Buddhist.) So I’m not sure if they count in the argument either. If you happen to know more about Buddhism or if my information is somehow wrong, please share.

        I’m not too familiar with Hinduism either, and their belief of how powerful the Gods are. But I have heard some Hindus explain that reincarnation is like their “hell” and release from this cycle of reincarnation is like their “heaven”. Of course like you mentioned, they also believe in karma so that may excuse them from the argument as well. If someone has bad fortune in life, it can be blamed on their bad karma for choosing to do bad things in their past life. So no one ever receives anything unjust without a fair reason. These bad things happening are not blamed on the Gods. (As far as I know).

        Like you said, everyone has different ideas on what suffering is and how to deal with it, but in the end we have all suffered something.

      2. Mostly I know about Buddhism from conversations with my Buddhist colleagues, so my knowledge is patchy. I think it’s fair to say that it’s more a philosophy than a religion, since it makes no claims either way about the existence of an ultimate deity. I do know, though, that the Buddhist monastics I’ve met take great issue with the reduction of Buddhism to a cutesy self-help movement, which is what it seems to have become in popular consciousness.

        Also, with adherents of Buddhism estimated at about 350 million worldwide, and as a movement pre-dating Christ, I’d say it’s a philosophy one has to take into account in this kind of discussion.

  13. I like your questions. They are the kind that truly free thinking individuals ask. These are the very reasons I began my novel. It was my own attempt to understand the evolution of a perfect creation into the big mess humans have made of it, both physically and spiritually. I may not have the right answers, but at least I am not accepting any more spoon fed trite designed to keep me complacent and quiet. For starters, free will is free will, which is not only our right and responsibility to control; but then we are subject to every other breathing being with free will out there. And I do not, on any level, believe in a God who picks and chooses whom to help and whom to cast aside. I have read several really interesting books on the power of our mind with regard to creating our existence and the power we have within that creation. I do believe prayers are often answered by the power and conviction with which they are expressed, also bearing in mind that others are aware of,and are using this power as well. If you are trying to imply an atheistic, random scenario of a dog eat dog world, well then I cannot agree simply because I have seen too many miracles my friend. But the actual execution of those miracles is definitely debatable. I believe there is much more to the passage of “God creating man in his image” than some physical attributes which have never been proven anyway. What I know is that God’s love is unconditional-for every creation, even those with dark agendas. Simply put, if you gave birth to a child whom you loved dearly, would you stop that love when that child did something wrong, even if it was beyond what you considered acceptable?
    I ask myself this question any time I see a news report about a serial killer or a senseless killing (as if there are sensible ones). I always say to myself that even that person had a mother. In many cases the parents aren’t total monsters although often they were. And I think about how they must feel knowing the truth about the child they loved. Does that love die? My love for my children wouldn’t, although I would expect the laws of the land to prevail even if it were my own child. And if one is to believe in the eternal nature of the soul, which I do, then there is nothing which can destroy that outside of the Creator Itself.
    So, I do believe in the power of prayer because it IS power, as well as the power of meditation, focused will, etc. Humans carrying out dark acts believe they are all powerful and often get away with much. We are taught in so many religious settings that power is evil so that we don’t even practice the ability to use our God given power for ourselves. It is time to remember our power to create a world we can be proud of instead of offering up desperate pleas to a Creator that wants only for all of its creations to know their desires to be fulfilled. There is a war between “good” and “evil” going on but it is raging within each one of us here on Earth. God is waiting to see who wins.

    1. Wow Dweezer19. I don’t know where to start! Firstly thank you. A very thoughtful comment.

      “I do believe prayers are often answered by the power and conviction with which they are expressed,” – We differ here. I know folks who could pray for Olympic gold and yet…what they wish for has not seen fruition.

      “If you are trying to imply an atheistic, random scenario of a dog eat dog world…” – not trying to imply that. That would suggest that I have answers.

      “What I know is that God’s love is unconditional-for every creation, even those with dark agendas.” – How do you know this?

      “if you gave birth to a child whom you loved dearly, would you stop that love when that child did something wrong, even if it was beyond what you considered acceptable?” – Doesn’t really matter. I’m not a Deity. I’m a stupid human. I don’t expect a God to think on my terms. I’m just trying to make sense of what people say are HIS words via my human perception – which of course may never be possible.

      “God is waiting to see who wins.” – How do you know this?

      1. Well it’s the old argument isn’t it? I know I have just drunk OJ because I was there and I saw it happen. It wasn’t told to me by someone else who was told by someone else…ad infinitum.

        Having some sort of evidence or being witness is how I would define ‘knowing’ something.

        When you say you believe this to be true I personally find that sits more comfortably and makes more sense.

      2. Well that’s good for you then. The problem for me is that even your solid view of knowing is not sufficient for me. I “believe” all of existence to be merely an illusion which brings any knowing to its smug knees. And I know that within this existence none of us really knows the absolute truth except by our intuition. And while scholars, scientists and spiritualists argue these trivial points, many minds are too occupied to focus on waking up from the nightmare. Still, I like your questions. You have to question.

      3. Damn it! I can’t remember what I said Dweez! Lol! I’m sure it was deep! And WP is not redirecting me to the comment. I can’t believe that I would have said that I ‘know’ anything though as I’ve been saying quite the opposite throughout all my responses. If I can trace the comment then I’ll answer better. 🙂

      4. Oh No worries. I think it was something about “knowing” you drank orange juice or something like that. But knowledge is quite subjective. Take for instance the orange juice. If you live in Central America and downed the very same liquid, you would “know” you had just consumed jugo naraanja. Not orange juice that translates to jugo naranja. Absolutely it would be jugo naranja. That would be your knowledge. I believe knowledge within this physical realm to be subjective.

  14. I think it’s a lovely verse. I’ve never heard the song, but the words are calming, however, in my opinion, untrue.
    I’m not a Christian, and neither was Christ. I’d hate to get into a religious debate, as just like Politics, it causes mayhem, so I’ll just say that we live in a very sad world, where children are offered as sacrifice, women are used as playthings, and men have largely forgotten how to be ‘men’.

    Most are caught in a net, like a school of fish, unable to escape, and every now and then, one manages to wriggle out, set free of the carnage and mayhem, able to get on with a life of happiness and joy, which, to my mind, is found within, as nothing can change what is happening in that net of hatred, abuse and confusion.

    Music is food for the Soul, so where ever it comes from, if it soothes and lifts you up, why not? but the words of a song, cannot be taken literally. – In my opinion 🙂

  15. One more thing, as horrific the most horrendous cruelty and death may be, it is over in a miniscule amount of time when compared to eternity. Our lives are a wisp of midst in the big picture. Our perspective is so limited. To us a year may seem like a long time, but it is almost literally nothing in the context of even recorded time, let alone eternity. There is something much bigger and much more important at stake than our comfort and happiness in this short time we live on this earth.

    Taking a step back, what if this were all there is? We have a sense of justice, right and wrong, good and evil – where did that come from? We have a keen sense of our own mortality and a deep yearning for a fountain of youth, some eternal elixir. Where did that come from? How would we even have a sense of it if we were not sending done reality that actually exits. Can it possibly be that this cruel and passing world is all there is?

    As difficult as the problem of evil and of pain seems to be, I think the other explanations for our existence are woefully inadequate. God who loves us and made us in His image to be able to love Him by our choice and to have fellowship with him is the only explanation that has ever made sense to me.

    1. That’s a lovely addendum. Thanks Kevin. It would be nice to think that this was a mere millisecond of what could be, given a wider perspective.
      It’s a lovely note to end on…

      …and then I’m drawn back to the fact that this is the reality we have to live with today and now, the rest we don’t now know and is mere speculation or hope.
      This remains true of course, “I think the other explanations for our existence are woefully inadequate.”

  16. Hi. My take on this begins with the idea that we are the hands, feet, and voice of God in the world. At one point in his ministry with the disciples, he sent them out two by two to heal and bring the Good News. The word for heal in Greek becomes our word Therapy, the Good News is about God’s unconditional love, and God having a different way of being in the world. As disciples we are called to bring therapy to, be therapists for, the world and, as much as we are able, show that there is a different way of being in the world that is borne out of unconditional love, In that way we allow God to work through us to change the world.

    Where is God in tragedy and suffering? God is in our response to catastrophes, when we reach out to others in pain, when we touch the lonely, when we work for justice, when we show the world that there is a different way of being that begins with equality. In my view God is at work through food banks, NGO’s, people who reach out to others who have found themselves in the aftermath of an environmental event, hospitals, community workers, people who in spite of or even because of their vulnerabilities have the courage to make a difference: Malala Yousafzai, Nelson Mendala, Mother Theresa, Harvey Milk, and countless numbers over time who have sought to get everyone involved in taking care of each other and creation. People who seek the shalom–health, wholeness and peace–of the world. People whose light in the world reflect that of, or are conduits of, the light of God.

    As noted, we have a choice to believe. For me, choice is what free will is about, not only to believe but in how we act. People have been given the ability to choose. People can choose to act in ways that cause suffering and people can choose to act in ways that result in hope and wholeness. People can choose to be Jesus’ disciples, disciples of the good, or of God. They can choose to get involved, to be God’s presence in the world according to our ability, whether it is the power and charisma of a Craig Kielburger, the power of the pen and a phone call to one’s political representatives, the power of giving, the power of touch and a word of support, the power of hope, the power of a prayer. We have the choice to hide our own light under a bushel, or we can work with others and bring the light of an inclusive, loving way of life as an alternative to ways of life that bring suffering and hopelessness. From my perspective God wants us, all of us, to be partners, not puppets.

    From my own personal experience, God’s eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me and in every difficulty is at work through me (through intuition, wisdom, and the still small voice), others (those known to me and their wisdom, as well as the occasional random stranger, or inspirational story) and events (finding myself in the right place at the right time–kairos in Greek) to bring a resolution that is more often than not not what I expected.

    Just some thoughts.

    Blessings on the questions, blessings on the journey.

    1. Okay now thank you! That was a very personal take on this issue and as such I cannot fault it. Your Harvey milk reference took me by surprise, only because I have never seen his name in the context of the others you mentioned. Interesting. Good interesting. 🙂

  17. There are two issues here. One is that we have free will so there will always be good and evil existing in the world. Two, the news media focuses on crimes committed and not all the good people do. Focus on the positive actions and read Christian magazines such as “Guideposts” or similar ones for inspiration.His eye is on the sparrow but you won’t see it if you limit your viewpoint.

    1. Good point. But even if I read only positive media for the rest of my days these awful things would still be happening and the question would still be asked: Is knowledge that His eye is on the sparrow enough with the carnage happening around us?

  18. In a world where people are free to reject God and do reject God, there will be evil and bad things will happen. It is inevitable and unavoidable as long as people have the choice to reject God. Without that choice, a real choice, there would also be love. Jesus died a cruel death because that ability to choose. He was God who shed his divinity, humbled himself to take on humanity, and his own people did not know him or receive him. They crucified him. God knows what it is like. He is not a distant, uncaring unsympathetic God. He has also shown us that resurrection follows the cross. He told the repentant thief next to him, “today you will be with me in paradise”. There will be judgment for those who have rejected God and chosen evil, but there will be eternal life, eternal joy, eternal peace, eternal happiness and love for those are received by God, and the martyrs will have a front row seat.

    1. “He is not a distant, uncaring unsympathetic God.” Not according to the Old Testament?
      Thanks Kevin. I appreciate your input. There are a lot of things laid out here as facts for which there is no real proof.

      Of course this then requires one to have faith or the choice to simply believe them, which I guess is what religious belief is all about.

      1. I’ve often commented that people who see a dichotomy in the Bible along the lines of OT = distant judgemental God and NT = warm caring God, know neither testament very well.

        I’ll give you just one reference (or I could be up all night), but take Psalm 46:1. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

      2. I’m not sure what that proves paidiske. I merely suggested that God showed elements of being distant, uncaring unsympathetic in the Old Testament. If you can prove that incorrect then I WILL be enlightened.

      3. Of course there are those elements to the OT. But they are not the whole story of the OT. On the other hand, there are also distant/uncaring/unsympathetic moments for God in the NT. (The death of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 being an example).

        I just get irritable with the idea that somehow the two testaments show a profoundly different God; both are complex and show – to my mind at least – a problematic God.

      4. Nope, wasn’t trying to set up the old argument between God in the OT and the NT. Just replying to that specific point made by Kevin.
        Don’t get irritable. It’s just debate, reasoning and throwing out ideas and queries, for which you have been both generous and appreciated.

  19. Already so many good thoughts here. All I would say is keep asking questions and keep an open mind,the God I believe in is big enough to handle it! We can argue and make excuses for God for all the bad stuff that happens but ultimately it comes down to trust. In the ‘ministry’ (hate that word) my wife and I are involved in we meet incredibly broken people who’s lives have been, and often continue to be, hell. Some of these people find a small sense of hope and peace in believing that this life is not the end. This world full of pain and the consequences of human kind’s selfishness will one day come to an end, and then God’s children will live with Him in peace. That’s the kind of faith I hold on to.
    Much peace to all.

    1. See now that’s what I like to hear, “keep asking questions and keep an open mind,the God I believe in is big enough to handle it!”

      If God is so great, why would He need us to protect Him from queries and doubt and kill and maim on his behalf?

      Conversely you could also ask why would He need us to proselytise on His behalf, which is activity that is strongly suggested in most religions?

      I think your summation is cool. It does comes down to each person’s CHOICE to choose to believe as commenter Deborah reminded about a previous post called ‘Strength Or Weakness Is A Choice’. It is down to choice to believe He is concerned about us, or put another way, to have faith.
      I could put it more unkindly too. A crutch. When we are going through hell we look for a crutch. This could be another person, drugs, drink, or equally God.

      Thanks Luke!

      1. No worries! And as far as the ‘crutch’ thing goes- I am absolutely and unashamedly aware of the fact that God (or my faith) is a crutch. There’s a Christian band I heard of called ‘Thousand Foot Crutch’. Pretty much sums it up! Jesus once said that only the sick need a doctor, that he had come for the weak and the lowly. In my experience when I get to the end of myself (which happens a lot!), that is where I find God.
        Thanks for inspiring an interesting conversation!

      2. Nice one! 🙂 I’ve never heard a person of faith refer to their beliefs as a crutch and indeed there is no reason that the word should have negative connotations in this regard.

  20. I’m trying to make a sensible comment, but as a believer am finding it impossible to formulate words within the reasonable length of a comment that wouldn’t come across as superficial. I will try and post on my own blog a longer response to this, but from my own life experiences I am of the firm belief that He really does watch over us and care for us. That doesn’t mean terrible things won’t happen either by accident or by design of the evil or misguided. But regardless of life’s circumstances I believe He is still watching, caring, weeping for us; and that one day He will embrace us as His children, when every unfairness of our mortal life will be repaid and then some.

    1. Thanks so much Jeff. I love it when a person of faith really makes an effort not to come out with pat answers, especially to what I know are circular queries that we all make as humans.
      So school me with this one:
      If my Moms said she loves me and looks after me and yet bad things that were in her power to stop kept happening I think it would be fair to start giving her the WTF side-eye no?

      1. Hmmm. Well, maybe…. What’s my interpretation of “bad things”, and what is, in reality, “in her power to stop”? My kids think I’m evil when I limit the amount of time they spend on their gaming machines – I like to think that I have a “higher view” of what is good for them.

        A less trite example: A parent may be caught in a cycle of abuse one generation after another. Or perhaps as a teenager someone gets caught up in drug dependency and the drugs then rule their life with urges that can’t be resisted. How much power do these individuals really have to stop the abuse or neglect? Some people manage it, while maybe others really do love their children (as far as they are able to) but simply aren’t able to overcome these other powerful compulsions. I get that some people do, but many also don’t – and I’m not going to make judgements on what they do or don’t have within their power. Although I still may weep for the trauma that the innocent suffer because of it. (And yes there are some parents who will say they love their children only to manipulate them for whatever narcissistic or other purposes they may have – but at what point does action driven from a personality disorder become a choice? Again, I wouldn’t want to judge that)

        On the one hand these examples only answer the question of your Mum who says she loves you but appears to act contrary to that, rather than to the original question of God caring for even the sparrow – what you’re talking about is clearly on a different scale to the amount of time kids play on a games console; and we’re talking about God who is not beset with inter-generational trauma, or genetically predisposed personality disorders.

        But I think it demonstrates the principle that “bad things happen, therefore the parent (or God) who could do something about it therefore doesn’t love or care for me” is false. The If – Therefore premise is a fallacy (even if an understandable one), because even with the things we know most about – out fellow human beings – demonstrates occasions at least when it’s not just that clear-cut.

        That doesn’t, of course, answer the question of “Why does God let these horrendous things happen if He really does love us?”. I’ll post a link to my blog post when I’ve written it, although I can’t promise that I’ll have any answers myself that I truly consider satisfactory. It doesn’t detract from my faith in a loving Heavenly Father and His Son who atoned for us though.

  21. First you must know that I am not a practicing Christian or anything else. I do have a slight Buddhist bent but for the most part wysiwyg.

    Having said that I am troubled when people place the blame on god for things he/she/they have done or not done.

    We, humanity with all our faults and failings were made in the image of the divine. All attributes including compassion, empathy, and most importantly free will are ours. What we chose to do is of great concern. THIS IS NOT A TEST PEOPLE. sorry just had to yell that out loud.

    “for whomever does this to one of my brothers does it to me.” or something to that effect. Lets get off our high horse, or mule. Lets knock the chip clean off our shoulder, and wake up and smell the coffee. I hope that is enough clichés?

    If we want a better world we have everything we need to have it. We just have to do the work. The building blocks be they physical, intellectual, or spiritual are ours already.

    Does god know when a sparrow touches the ground, yes, and so can we. We are divine of course.

      1. Now you have hit the nail squarely on the head.

        The points of view. The soul exists but is limited to mankind. (Sorry women, not chauvinistic but just do not give two cents about political correctness.) In this case the sparrow is not created to be resurrected, so no. Lets not get into the debate of can god create something he cannot lift, PLEASE!!
        Second. The soul exists and is not limited to mankind. Then the sparrow is already either resurrected or on its way there. Hopefully has someone with better insight into these things than me.
        Third. The soul does not exists, we die. The sparrow died. The only question that remains are, was the sparrow the best sparrow it could be and to extrapolate, are we the very best person we can be?

        Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much. Smile
        Carl

  22. God is watching and is with us, I feel these acts are done by people whom the devil has taken over their mind, thus god then may be can’t influence them…but I am a strong believer of karma…everyone doing such acts will be made to pay one day….god shall decide that when..

      1. Hi 🙂 don’t know…Its really sad what’s happening but I still want to believe in god, I read somewhere you have to reach to god, then god will recuse you…but what happens to innocent people and why it happens even I wonder why they are not protected?

  23. I’d tell him to figure it our for himself and not let anyone else tell him how he is supposed to interpret it. Just my two, non-conforming cents worth.

  24. There is good and there is also evil. I think it’s just lovely how everyone enjoys reporting all the evil things and leaves much of the good of the world in the dark. We have the choice of what we do. Its free will. We don’t have to kill kittens and shoot down planes, just like we don’t have to go to church and sing hymns. There is both love and hate, just as there is also good and evil. You get what you give.

    1. It’s a very good point Jessie and addresses another interest of mine and that is human behaviour. I have often thought wouldn’t it be nice to have a newspaper that has predominantly great news of the wonderful people in our society helping others and being all round good eggs?

      The thing is I’m not so sure it would outsell the current fashion for everything perverse and bad. I’ve even seen attempts as such and they did not draw a big audience. However I’m hoping that maybe in the right hands this could happen and be great. Although that doesn’t address the core query of this post.

      Lets say, going along with the gospel tune, God helped a budgie in Norway what about the others?

      1. Nowhere in the bible does it say that bad things won’t happen to you. Actually, it promises they will. And it promises that you will be persecuted for your beliefs. The tricky part is having the faith to believe that God will take care of you through those harrowing times, even if it simply means getting your soul somewhere nice in the aftermath. And for me, that is enough. It’s not an easy thing by any means, the bible never says it will be, But it’s our choice to trust in Him or not. If we do, then in the end we will be taken care of, one way or the other. It’s all temporary in this life.

    2. ? You get what you give ? There are large numbers of evil people out there getting lots of great things in life, while giving back only crap, causing pain and suffering to boot. And then there are many “good” people who give and give and work their bums off yet have very difficult lives. Am not speaking of simply material things here either. I’m talking health, welfare, happiness. I do not agree at all . . . with your final comment.

  25. I feel your pain and empathy for those who are abused and wronged, the neglected child and the beautiful creatures of this earth.
    The Bible does tell us that God sees and He cares about even a sparrow that falls to the ground. But, God made the earth and gave man dominion over it. For a limited time. That’s what gives us hope. There is a limit to the time God will allow mankind to exert his own will. For the most part men rule by force and violence. My favorite part of the Lord’s Prayer is this: Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

    Throughout the ages God has protected and yet sometimes allowed His servants to be enslaved, abused, and killed. Think about the apostles and many early believers who were martyred for their faith in Christ. Then think of the countless others who tell glorious stories of deliverance and divine protection. How God decides is known only to Him.

    The one truth I hang on to is the old truth known even to Abraham thousands of years ago: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Genesis 18:25

    I pray you find peace about this. I’ve been meditating on Philippians 4:8 and find it gives me peace even when the news is full of the awful reality of this world.

  26. Well, the sparrows come into it from Jesus’ words: “What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.”

    But God doesn’t show that love by forcing us to be good. He lets us choose. Some of us choose love and kindness – mostly. Some of us don’t. And some of us choose to do unspeakable things to each other (and to other parts of creation).

    Nothing in this song suggests that Jesus is going to wave a magic wand and everything will be in the garden lovely. Rather it speaks of the comfort of Jesus’ companionship in hard times. (Obviously, if someone doesn’t want any of God in their life, thank you very much, that comfort isn’t going to be there for them, because God doesn’t force himself on anyone.)

    Speaking for myself, I’ve found that true. In hard times, God doesn’t magically make everything better (though I sometimes wish he would). Instead, he makes me better.
    Like you were talking about the other day, “Strength or Weakness is a Choice”. God helps me to be strong so I don’t depend on my circumstances to be ‘all right’.

    This still doesn’t answer the question of why God didn’t just make us incapable of doing anything hateful or unloving. I don’t know. I guess he wanted us to be able to choose.

    That’s my understanding of it (pardon the screed). I’d be interested to hear what other people put in.

  27. All of the people in these stories are captivated by something unnatural, we could say “evil.” My guess is the sparrow is just minding sparrow business. However, there’s never any point challenging anyone’s beliefs. It’s the same as telling them their favorite color isn’t what they say it is.

    1. Hello, thanks Martha. I hear you. It’s not so much challenging anyone’s belief as asking people to interpret this idea that God is watching and caring for everyone through their beliefs and seeing what ideas hold water.

    1. Hey IMH! 🙂 It’s a query we will hear until the end of time, because sometimes as a human you don’t want to hear pretty words and be asked to wait and believe. You just want to see this Power no?

  28. Hi! I saw your question about the lyrics of the song, “His Eye Is On The Sparrow.”
    I looked it up and found a couple more verses.

    Here they are:

    1. Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heav’n and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
    ◦ Refrain:
I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
    2. “Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
    3. Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

    I think the composer of these lyrics is referencing part of the Bible—The Book of Matthew, chapter 10.
    It’s 42 verses long, so I won’t post it all here, but you can look it up online to get the full context.
    Jesus is speaking to His disciples.

    Here are verses 28 to 33:

    Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.[b] 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
    32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

    In the footnote for care, in verse 29, the words are also to be “or will or knowledge.”
    My understanding of this is that God is aware of everything that happens in the world, which has evil in it. As those who have asked for and received forgiveness from God, those who believe in Him and His Son, we receive the promise of life forever with God when they die. I think the composer of the lyrics was saying that God was aware of them all the time. They go on to say that they grow closer to Him (through prayer, perhaps) and they are then set free from care, which I assume means worry, fear or anxiety, at different, separate times.

    I can totally understand your thoughts about the song seeming to say one thing, when in reality, it seems to be a different way.
    Does this help clear up your question any?
    ——Myra

    1. Thanks Myra you detective you! 🙂
      In that context it’s a lovely way of saying ‘Hey I’m here for you. I’ll get you through this.’ It’s like passing on mental strength to someone much in the way that if you were miles away and called home in tears your parents would say, (hopefully!) ‘Hang in there, we’re thinking of you all the time! You’re not alone!’

      Okay so parents are human and as such have limitations to physically change certain things. God is not. Is it greedy to say ‘Okay thanks God for the comfort and all, but could you just stop it?’ ‘It’ being another Indian girl being raped and burned alive, or the Nigerian girls being kidnapped, another kid being punched daily and starved for the hell of it. etc.

  29. Wow, you pose a most excellent question and, at the same time, it’s most difficult to answer. I struggle with this on a daily basis. I am having issues with God and Jesus right now, in fact. When horrific tragedies like this happen, I have a habit (can’t say it’s good or bad–it just is) of questioning God/Jesus on “where the hell were you?!” My relationship with God/Jesus is a love/hate relationship, although a bit more on the side of love. The why of that would be a very, very long story, but the short of it and to your answer, the best way I know how at this point (since I’m angry with them now) is:

    We are given free will. If people want to hurt people, they will. Although there are times God protects, at times he does not. I used to believe everything was random but now I do believe there’s a reason for everything, even if I don’t understand it, and most of the time I do not. In fact, during times such as those you mentioned above, I’m completely pissed off at him and cry and yell at him.

    Just like the sparrow, we are watched over by him. Just as the sparrow is not promised to be kept from predators, we are not promised to be kept from harm, torment, struggle and a torturous death.

    I recently read the Book of Job, which was all new to me. Oh sure, I’d heard stuff in church the couple times I went (never been one for church) and from church-goers but never read it for myself till a month or two ago. The man was put through hell and he questioned God but did not turn his back on him. I can’t say I could be that strong and faithful. In fact, I can honestly say that it would be damn hard to go through all he went through and keep my faith. Job was stronger than me.

    What I do know for certain, although my brain fights it often, is that God and Jesus love us more than words can say and they cry when we hurt. All the things on this earth seem so freakin’ big to us and hurt us and make us question life and wanting to continue living it, but when we look down on our lives here on earth once we make it back to heaven (if we believe in Jesus), it will seem like a blink compared to our lives up there. Not to say our lives here and all that happens here is insignificant. It’s very significant. Our faith is to be constantly tested. If we remain true to him, even though we may occasionally stray (like I do), we will be rewarded better than we can ever imagine.

    One day, we will be made to understand (at least I believe this) as to why all this stuff had to happen, his reasons for it, and all our questions will be answered.

    Sorry for the novel. I suppose these particular questions (and my particular sad and questioning mood) made me particularly loquacious. Too many ‘particulars’?

    If you’d like to discuss further, please let me know. I always speak from my heart what I feel to be the truth.

    *hug*

    1. That. Is. Wonderful. Thank you so much Carol!
      I love your ‘since I’m angry with them now!’ Lol! Because it’s REAL! It’s human! I’ve never believed that if God gave us logic and the ability to debate, doubt and query that it made sense not to use those abilities.

      “Just as the sparrow is not promised to be kept from predators, we are not promised to be kept from harm, torment, struggle and a torturous death.” This is true, but why? If my Father was the Big Cheesio, The All Powerful, The Big Man On Campus but said that I should just keep asking Him with no guarantee of an answer I would give Him the WTF side-eye.

      Job my dear is one of my favourite reference points. He put that guy through hell and all for a spitting contest with the devil. Huh? Again if that were my father….WTF side-eye.

      I do like the idea of everything seeming so insignificant when looking down from this construct called Heaven, because that even happens now when we look back at things that we made such a fuss about as they were happening. With a distant eye they lose all their importance.

      “Our faith is to be constantly tested’, – yeah…I guess so…But that just makes God sound like an insecure husband. Should our Deities be above such needs to be constantly re-assured? Sounds very human!?

      1. I look at it this way – God has a plan. Not just for my life, but the entire universe. It may seem that god is uncaring at times, letting children die, people get murdered – but there is a reason for it all.

        There is a story in the bible ( don’t ask me the book and verse – i’m pretty bad at the memorization ) where the Apostles ask Jesus why a man was blind. Was it something he did? His parents did?

        Jesus told them this man was blind so he could be there on that day and be healed for the glory of God, and Jesus healed his sight that day.

        Think about that for a second. For that man to be there, his parents had to meet, and their parents, and their parents…. not to mention stay alive at least long enough to give birth to the man.

        That child in the car will awake to the Kingdom of God. His/Her death, as tragic as it was, might be the tipping point for some person somewhere to work to prevent child abuse. It may be even subtler than that – the person reading the story might only pass on the event to another who is the one to take action.

        Take Job…that event and his suffering have been documented and has been affecting millions for a few thousand years now. What if the point wasn’t a spitting contest? What if the point was to cause an event a few thousand years later?

        We like to think of ourselves as important, but we may only have a small part to play in it all.

      2. Well, I always try to speak my truth and be real. Especially when it comes to God, I’m VERY REAL with him. I lay it all out on the line. I was raised to never question anything — do as I say, not as I do mentality, which, in my opinion, is total bull. Plus, not questioning put me in very tragic situations. Now, I question everything and have raised my daughter to question everything, including me, if it’s something she doesn’t agree with or needs reasoning. I want her to understand why. I want her to reason and not do everything someone tells her just because they are an “adult.” I believe that God appreciates honesty and authenticity moreso than false respect and reverence. Don’t get me wrong, I have a healthy fear of the Lord and know he can strike me down at anytime with a bolt of lightning. But I think he respects our realness and honesty and openness much more than zipping our lips and not having a rant when we need to and getting it out. I believe God appreciates a good debate. I was told never to put a question mark where God put a period but I question everything I have a mind to. While I realize he has reasons why he does things and it’s not for us to understand, it’s human to question his methods, to question his denied protection, to question his reasons. Perhaps I’m wrong to do this, but it feels right to me. I suppose I’ll find out for sure one day.

        As far as not being promised to be kept from harm, this answer is sort of long but here goes:

        Sometimes bad things happen to us and we question why God let it happen. Why did he not protect us? Where was he? Did he turn his back? Was he unable to help?

        At 12, I was molested by a doctor, someone my mother worked for. When I told her, she did nothing. I thought, ‘I cannot trust God and I cannot trust my mother.’ For being raised in an abusive house (abused by my father, neglected by my mother), I didn’t trust anyone anyway, but this just added another nail, ya know?

        I grew up, love is blind and I got married, had a wonderful blessing called a daughter and you talk about overprotective mom!!! Of course, I don’t think there’s such a thing as overprotective. There’s crazy and there’s overprotective. I knew what evil lurked out there and it was my duty to protect her. (Being molested taught me to better protect and parent my child. Neglect by my mother turned me into Mama Bear–touch my child and you will surely die a slow torturous death),

        For her first 7 years, I had crazy nightmares of bad stuff happening to her, being stolen from our grocery cart, stolen from my house, etc. I felt I didn’t deserve anything so fine as this wonderful child (that I wanted since I was 2). I prayed for God to protect us and keep us safe (my daughter, myself and my mother — she finally grew up, I learned forgiveness and we finally bonded, minus trust) and let no harm come to us and this was all that was important in my life. He could take our house, our car, our land, I would be okay with that, just not my family. I finally learned how to believe he would protect us: faith (a first for me), and I let go of worry. Not all worry, mind you. Just not an over the top abundance of it when it pertained to my family. The nightmares stopped.

        Stuff happens that we don’t like sometimes like my baby having to go thru 2 knee surgeries, etc. but that’s life and it could be a whole lot worse. I learned to look for the silver linings. After her surgeries, there’s nothing she can’t do, she can play soccer, whatever. When my dad (step-dad, more of a daddy) died, it took me a long time to find any silver linings, but finally did. He won’t suffer from PTSD (served 2 tours in Vietnam), he won’t suffer thru smoking 4 packs a day and living on alcohol, he won’t struggle to catch his breath — emphysema.

        As far as horrific tragedies like the ones you mentioned, I cannot begin to understand God enough to know how to answer that question. I wish I had some answers. There are no silver linings. I’m just now reading the Bible myself so I’m only at the beginning of truly learning more of the truth about him and Jesus. I felt it was my duty since I wanted a better understanding. I could not trust preachers to tell me the truth. They are good at twisting the truth and leaving out a lot of it. I just started a few months ago and have already learned so much; stuff I never knew (some, honestly is knock-my-head-against-a-wall boring, but some is pretty interesting, I must say).

        When tragedies like these happen and there’s no way I can wrap my head around it, I just cry and yell at him, or sometimes just cry to relieve the pressure on my brain, because if I don’t, I just might lose it. If he was standing in front of me, I’d most likely bang my fists against his chest. And even that, he would understand and sympathize with. He gets anger. He gets frustration. He gets me, even when I don’t get me. He gets you. He understands. Just wish we did.

        All I can say about “keep asking Him,” is to keep asking him. One thing we should never do (although I have at times) is give up on him. I know sometimes it feels as if he’s forgotten us or doesn’t want to help. I don’t think that’s it. In fact, I know that’s not it. He can help and he has produced many miracles. I have experienced several in my life. I used to think he didn’t have a plan for my life but that was a lie I told myself. Some people say it’s the devil telling you lies, and while that may be true, we tell ourselves lies, because for some reason, it makes us feel better to be angry and bitter, even if it’s just for a little while. We are human. It’s natural. Who wants to be a robot and be emotionless? Leave that to the psychopaths. I’d like to hang on to what little sanity I have left.

        Petition him with all your heart, daily. “Ask him and you will receive” (I have issues with this, too). You are to ask him every day what it is you want him to do for you. Sometimes he’s lighting fast to answer! Sometimes, it takes him 28 years = finally having my daughter. The toughest part of dealing with God for me is patience and learning it’s all in his time, not ours. But no, I want it NOW! That’s not how he takes care of things, at least not always. I’m glad he waited on my daughter. I wasn’t really ready for her before 31. And he answered graciously. He heard every request. Every quality I asked for, he gave her. He gifted to me all my prayers in this child. We can petition God for comfort, for peace, for rest. To pray to understand these impossible-to-understand tragedies is…well, impossible. We will not ever be able to understand why he allows these things to happen, except for the free will thing. He does not interfere with free will. I wish sometimes that he did, but at the same time, I’m glad he gives it to us. We are free to come to him if we want or free to not. He doesn’t force himself on us. He does want our love, though. He wants our trust. He wants our anger and our realness and our tears. He wants us to love his son and to understand why he died for us. Just like any relationship, it’s not always easy. It’s always a work in progress. And hopefully, over time, we learn to trust and strengthen our connection.

        As far as answers, I believe God does answer prayers, just not always immediately (his time thing again) and sometimes the answer is no. No is an answer.

        Me: “God, I want to win the Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes. I want to live an ez pz life and be wealthy and not ever have to work again.”

        God: “Om, no.”

        Oh and don’t think for a moment I don’t cop the WTH side-eye. If more people were honest, they’d admit it, too. 😉

        Yeah, I didn’t realize just how bad Job had it till I read about it but God rewarded him moreso than he was blessed before all that hell. Although, I question God on that, too. Yeah, he gave Job more children and all that, but I could never call that more blessed than before, not after taking my children. That’s a loss I’d never recover from. I wouldn’t be able to have more children, because I’d die from a broken heart. However, I answer as a human with all my human emotions and I believe we will feel much different when we are free of these bindings and have that heavenly link again. When we go home, it’ll all be clear and we’ll be like, “Oh, yeah! I totally get that now. So sad how I lived with so much anger and bitterness and depression all those years on earth.” For us, it feels so difficult, no long and treacherous. Sometimes, it feels impossible to even get up in the morning. But when we put on heaven, all that will be gone, because we’ll come into this knowledge and understanding (I think, anyway).

        I’ve had many dreams over the years that offers me great comfort: I’m in this great hall with extremely large and magnificent golden door frames and in each open doorway are several life choices playing on sort of a mini-movie screen. I’m allowed to watch each life, each family and pick which life I want (this time) and I get to choose life experiences. I choose some of the hardest struggles, because this builds character, strength and resilience. I am being sent back to earth again because I didn’t learn that thing during the last life I really wanted to learn and I’m given the choice to go back or stay. I will have my faith tested and all these tests and triumphs and struggles will result in a strengthened spirit/soul.

        Now, I don’t know if it can work like this but I do feel we are sent here, each with a distinct purpose. Sometimes, we don’t learn what God sent us here to learn. Do we get another chance? I have no idea. I don’t understand the spirit or the soul and what all it’s capable of. I do know part of our purpose is to love God, to love Jesus and to help others as much as we can and not be so proud to show the world how much we help others, to help the poor and the hungry. And we are supposed to lean on God and trust him. Not the easiest thing in the world to do but he wants us to try. It’s a work in progress.

        I know what you mean about “makes God sound like an insecure husband.” I have had many talks with him about this, our constantly being tested. He is sort of like any “loving” father, I guess. He wants to know you believe and trust in him; know that he has your back. He wants your devotion and yeah, I guess he wants to be reassured. It DOES sound very human!

        Wow. Sorry. Looks like I tried to write you a book again. I tend to be long-winded when it comes to this kind of stuff, I guess. I will shut up now. 😉

      3. Ha ha! That was indeed long but thank you Carol. It’s always interesting to read folks’ journey to where they are now, particularly because I know of people with very similar back stories who wind up in a completely different place.
        2+2 never usually makes 4 in real life!

      4. I like your description of God as a jealous, “insecure husband.” That made me chuckle. I have a couple of posts on religion that you might be interested in. I talk about the issue of “God’s plan,” and all of the suffering on earth. I think a belief that God has it all under control is very comforting for people, but it also poses some logical problems, as it make God look very inconsistent. Good for you for not letting people just chock it up to God’s infinite wisdom. That is taking the easy way out.

      5. Thanks numommy20! We are rather naughty as humans ‘Waaaaah! you do the thinking for me!’ I can see by your teaching style ‘modeling curiosity’ that that is not your way out clearly!

  30. The idea that “his eye is on the sparrow” comes from teaching of Jesus recorded slightly differently in Matthew and Luke’s gospels. Matthew’s version runs thus:

    “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground unperceived by your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

    I think it’s clear that taking that as some kind of promise of protection from hard times is to take it fairly out of context.

      1. I don’t pretend to have a neat answer to the problem of theodicy! I don’t know that there is one, except perhaps in eschatology, but that’s quite unsatisfying now.

      2. Ah, sorry. Theodicy is the branch of theology which deals with the problem of evil. Eschatology is the theology of the end times/final destiny of creation.

        In effect, I was saying that from the perspective of our eventual destiny, this mess might look ok; but that sure as anything doesn’t make it ok now. And I’m not sure that there’s any answer that does.

  31. Suppose God swooped in and punished everyone who was *about to* do evil. Is that the kind of God you’re petitioning for? The kind who constantly suppresses human free will?

    At any rate, to address your point — that God is either unaware or unable to prevent evil, I’d like to argue that evil is a necessary possibility involved in allowing human freedom. Think of the matter ontologically — if each person only had the ability or option to perform exactly as God wanted them to, then no sense of individual being and intentionality would have ever existed in humanity. This seems to be the God you’d prefer (if it had to be this God or that God), but I must say, that sounds like Hell to me.

    1. Thanks Andy! Wouldn’t mind at all! They’re about to do evil. Why would I want that?
      Plus let’s imagine this world where you are ‘programed’ to do only what God wants, how would you know it’s hell if you were not introduced to the concept?

      Plus those limitations of removing one’s sense of individual being and intentionality are human, you think an all powerful Deity couldn’t work that out?

      1. Well I’m not sure that anyone should *want* someone to do evil — but that’s not what I’m asking you to consider. Please correct me if I’m not understanding you properly, but are you suggesting that you would rather just be God’s puppet than have the free will to make good (or bad) choices?

        The God of the Bible (which is the God we’re discussing) is described in the Bible as “love” itself (1 John 4:8). It’s perfectly reasonable to understand God’s imparting humanity with free will as an act of love to us — for without free will we wouldn’t be able to hate or do evil (I’ll give you that), be we also wouldn’t be able to love or choose to do good. In this context, it seems that human pain and suffering is a small price to pay for humanity and love — you can’t get one without the other.

        So to answer your final question, the all-powerful Deity did work that out and I’m glad He did.

      2. ” are you suggesting that you would rather just be God’s puppet than have the free will to make good (or bad) choices?”
        I want to be happy Andy. Ultimately I think most people want to be happy. If I was happy and safe why would I care if I was God’s puppet or not, so long as He was cool people and in my corner? So the answer is yes. He is GOD! I would be just fine!

        “or without free will we wouldn’t be able to hate or do evil (I’ll give you that), be we also wouldn’t be able to love or choose to do good”
        Might be a personal thing but I don’t really care. I want to be happy. PLUS that really is YOUR assumption that we would not be able to love. This is God we’re talking about. The Omnipotent. Anything He wants to work will work no?

      1. I would have thought that any time in God’s company – whatever He chose to do would be perceived as Heaven, what with Him being the Big Cheese, the Great Father, THE Spiritual Leader and all. 🙂

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