Today’s tough question:
“I recently went to a graveside funeral. I wore a mask, but a lady I was talking to was not. She was telling me about several of her family members with covid-19. She said she was not worried for herself or any of her family members because her prayers have taken care of that. My question is:
“Does this lady have a strong belief in her prayers being answered a specific way or was this testing/tempting our Lord?”
Let me say from the outset, I’m a big believer in the power of prayer. Prayer is powerful because the God who hears our prayers is powerful. Our prayers reach the throne of a merciful God who loves us and can do all things. Psalm 91 offers wonderful promises and imagery for a prayer of protection.
Now to the part about testing/tempting our Lord. On the topic of testing God, the Bible story that automatically comes to mind is Satan tempting Jesus. In the second of three temptations, the devil told Jesus to jump from the pinnacle of the temple. In other words, “throw caution to the wind” and trust that God will intervene and save you.
Jesus responded, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” (Matthew 4:7 ESV)
Telling someone to “jump off a high building and trust God to rescue you” is a more brazen test of God than not wearing a mask. But how far do you take it? Do you not wear a seat belt and hope you never get in a wreck? Do you leave your doors unlocked and hope a burglar never tries to enter?
Why play that game?
I don’t believe that a practical precaution indicates the absence of trust in God. Instead, it demonstrates the presence of wisdom.
Instead of testing God, the Bible teaches prudence and wisdom in our choices. Proverbs 22:3 (ESV): “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.” The prudent doesn’t see danger and run toward it while praying that God protects him. It says that the prudent takes into account the cause-and-effect nature of the world. If you run toward danger, you might get hurt.
Some choose to be unmasked and pray for protection from covid-19. I prefer to wear a mask and pray for protection. Although I don’t know the unmasked woman at the funeral, I’d venture to say that my faith is not inferior to hers.
Jesus told the parable of the wise man and the foolish man. Both built houses – one on rock and the other on sand. When the storm blew in, the house on the rock remained standing.
The man who built his house on the sand could have prayed for the wind and rain to miss his house. However, it’s uncommon for God to violate the fixed laws of nature. It can happen – and has happened – but it’s not God’s normal way of working. Normally, God upholds the natural laws He established. Therefore, to quote the children’s song, “the house on the sand went splat.”
The man who built his house on the rock represents the person who, Jesus said, “hears these words of mine and puts them into practice.” (Matthew 7:24) We don’t want to take chances with our souls, so we build our lives on the solid foundation of Jesus’ words. Does it make sense to choose safety for our souls but not our bodies? You can have faith and take wise precautions.
So, while covid is still an ever-present danger, please wear your mask. Practice physical distancing. Wash your hands. And at the same time, pray fervently for God’s protection over you and your loved ones!
Stay tuned for the next tough question! In case you missed the last one, it was: “Is It Sometimes Better to Stay Angry?”