More about My “Negative” Tweet Last Night

by ShaunKing on December 10, 2010 · 15 comments

Yesterday I watched a gut-wrenching interview with Dr. William Petit on the Oprah Winfrey Show.  Rai & I cried, could hardly watch, and fluctuated between raw anger, sadness, and confusion for the entire hour.

In July of 2007, Dr. Petit was nearly beaten to death with a baseball bat in his home by 2 awful men out of jail on parole.  Tied up in his basement, his wife of 22 years, Janet, a nurse, was raped and killed.  Then his 17 year old daughter, Haley, was raped and killed.  Then his 11 year old daughter, Michaela, was raped and killed.

The evil men then burned down the house and Dr. Petit, inches away from death, barely escaped.

The Petit family were Christians.  (Dr. Petit, amazingly, reluctantly even, is still holding on that God exists, but said that he and God, at best are in a standoff right now.)

They prayed for divine intervention.  It doesn’t appear to have happened in any way that I understand.

After watching it, my wife and I had a raw conversation like many of the raw conversations about God that we often have privately.  They are often too raw for a microphone and I think that is unfortunate.

We both wondered aloud this…

How in the world could God hear the prayers of a mother… begging Him for divine intervention or some type of miracle so that 2 monsters don’t rape and murder her 11 & 17 year old daughters…how & why could God hear that and choose not to respond?

Why should I ever assume that God hears my little stupid prayers and cares enough to answer them if he didn’t respond to the hopes of a mother about to have the most heinous things imaginable happen to her two daughters??

Evil won. Good lost. Right?

I then tweeted this….

“Just watched today’s Oprah. Brutally painful. Honestly makes me wonder so many core ideas about God, prayer, and more. Any of you see it?”

Many people wondered what I saw on Oprah and then I tweeted this

“A man on Oprah today watched his wife & 11 & 17 y/o daughters get raped & killed by criminals while they prayed for God to help. God didn’t.”

My wife thought it was too raw to post.  Not hopeful enough.  Maybe she’s right.  If you know me you know I am as hopeful and optimistic as it gets.

Someone else took it a step further and questioned if I was actually a man of God for writing such a tweet.

“and you claim to be a man of God??? whew, hard to believe that after that tweet.”

Here’s the thing…

I don’t serve God because I have all of the answers. I have real questions that have no answers.

I don’t love God because it all makes sense to me. I am often utterly confused with my faith.

Frankly, I would abandon a faith that wasn’t strong enough for tough questions.  In fact, I am more confident in my faith because I test its limits in every way I know how.

In the end though, I find just a bit of comfort in Isaiah 55:8 which reminds us that our thoughts and God’s thoughts are not the same.  Furthermore, I am hopeful that what questions I have in this life, I will get answered in the next one.

Would love for you to join this “negative” conversation.

What are your gut thoughts on why God appears to intervene sometimes and not others?  Why do you believe in prayer in spite of the above story?

  • Kevin J. McGlathery


    These are very poignant thoughts. John Ortenberg wrote a book called Faith AND Doubt: The Most Important Word is in the Middle. In this masterful illustration of Christian faith versus human belief; he made the bold statement that you can not have faith without doubt. He further asserted; it is doubt in and of itself that proves faith. It is evil that substantiates good. In God's plan, it seems to take stretching people's faith in order for them to proclaim even louder. Refer to Job, Abraham, and Jesus.

    I see the God in that entire situation, because now you have opened the door for someone else who has questions. They know now that they can count on you to give them the best answer you have; or you will honestly help them to investigate the mysteries of this great Gospel. The evil that man had to endure pushed someone – who never has – to call on the name of the Lord. It pushed someone like you to spark an intelligent conversation so that someone else may be saved.

    God's absolute will allows evil to exist. That is why the serpent was already in the Garden of Eden. It is His permissive will that allows bad things to happen to good people. God allowed the enemy to do all that he did to Job. Finally, it is His providential will for things like this to happen from time to time. He tests our faith, so that He can ultimately get the glory. Jesus had to endure the cross for salvation, deliverance, and redemption to be available. That man had to suffer this tragedy, so that we might spark this conversation.

    In His service,

    Kevin J. McGlathery

  • JAC

    Awesome post! I think we need the room to be real about the things we struggle with. God is certainly big enough to handle our anger, questions, doubts, and fears. I agree with you. If He wasn't big enough, He wouldn't be the God I know to have my faith in. I can't imagine not being angry with Him in that situation. I've been quite upset at Him plenty of times. I often joke with my friends and my Pastor that I've been yelling (aloud) at God on occasion. He has always handled whatever hard questions or tragic circumstances I've faced that I don't understand. Even when I don't know all of the reason or exactly what God was thinking, my faith is strengthened and He's never left me alone to deal with whatever it is by myself.

    I honestly believe that people would often grow closer to God if they brought their honest and raw concerns to Him. I reverence God deeply, but I don't hold back when I feel a bit lost. I trust enough in our personal relationship to go there and know that He will be God when I do.

  • Brent Logan

    You aren't the first to ask tough questions. David asks in Psalm 1:1:

    "Why, LORD, do you stand far off?
    Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?"

    And Jesus asks in Matt 27:46: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

    We don't have a lot of choices. We can act like nothing bad happens. We can recognize bad happens but not question why God allows it, or we can recognize bad happens and that God allows it. I think intellectual honesty makes option 3 the only viable choice.

    Why does God allow it? I don't know. But I don't think it's wrong to question.

  • @carlthomas

    As far as the tweet is concerned, I am reminded that we are to hold every thought captive to the knowledge of Christ. Carlton Pearson had a similar unrestrained conversation that lead him to universalism.

    Bottom line is that Adam's disobedience brought sin into the world and men have free will. When I received Jesus as my Savior I was promised eternal life with the Father, every thing else is gravy. So if I don't get the house, the car, the healing, the protection, or the hookup, the worst that can happen is I go to heaven. God didn't promise me a rose garden. He promised my transgressions would not be counted against me.

    My $.02

  • JanetOber

    Saw your tweets last night … did not watch the Oprah show, but heard about the story. So sad! I don't know if I'd believe in God if I lived through something like that.

    I liked the honesty in your tweets and this post, these lines are true for me also … "I don’t serve God because I have all of the answers. I have real questions that have no answers. I don’t love God because it all makes sense to me. I am often utterly confused with my faith."

    In answer to your questions … Most days my gut feelings are that prayer doesn't have near the effect that I used to think it does … maybe it doesn't have any effect at all. I don't know.

    And yet, like you, I was in a severe accident. Many of my family/friends say the reason I'm alive and walking today is due to God answering prayers that I don't die and/or lose my leg as I lay in a coma post-accident. Now I'm walk well and even run again (had been a vital part of my life pre-accident) and yet even being the recipient of 'miracles' I wonder about answered prayers. I still have pain, limitations and a starkly deformed leg. If I lived due to a 'miracle' why wasn't it finished with my legs going back to what they were pre-accident? So many questions …

  • jelenia

    To tell you the truth I read the tweet yesterday and it got me thinking too . It is indeed confusing some things just dont make sense and like you said if our faith is not strong we just fail. It is said He will never give you anything too strong for you to bear .Yet in front of something so horrible like that …
    In the end we are human we are subject to these emotion even Jesus said Father why did you leave me so I gues we are entitled to feel that way One day this man will find his way if its his time now to talk to God then let it be

  • Liz

    At the end of the day isn't this world just inherently evil? Bad things happen all the time despite our prayers. While this incident on Oprah is tragic and painful, it's not necessarily any different from the evil that plagues the world on a consistent basis: cancer, drunk driving deaths, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. I'm not trying to belittle this situation, but I am trying to understand why this incident appears to make you question your faith and God moreso than say, the devastation in Haiti? Is it because these people were identified as Christians and praying during the acts?

  • LaVonne Harmon

    Thank you for your RAW HONESTY. It is needed. When faced with these tough and painful circumstances, I have found Luke 24 comforting. It is a chapter I contemplated on World Aids Day, and I ended up writing this on my blog: "Even after seeing miracles, witnessing people being brought back from death, and being with Jesus day and night, the disciples had questions. They had questions right up until He left them. We are to do what Jesus did. We are to meet those who question where they are, uplift them and encourage them to keep seeking and keep believing."

    Questioning is nothing new. God knows our heart … He hears our cries. He answers in ways we simly do not understand sometimes.

  • @quiet_thoughts

    Shaun! I saw the exact same interview with my husband and I cried and cried. I kept thinking about my own children and what I would do to protect them. What I realize about this life is there are a lot of horrible sinful, broken people running around down here and unfortunately we are going to collide with those people. Actually, we are all broken and sinful~ with potential for great evil but through God's grace we get a second chance.

    I don't know what that mom was thinking or praying when all this happened but I know that she's not thinking about any of those things now. I do know that at the exact moment those lovely girls and their momma left this earth nothing here concerned them any longer. They were in the presence of their God! See he loves them better than anyone else could. He takes the best care of us! No matter the outcome of that horrible moment I saw God glorified in the lives of these beautiful women.

    I think we can really get caught up in doubting God in those moments but that's just our human nature getting in the way. We always think we need all the answers and I guess some day all this will make sense. I do

    realize that I won't be "here" forever and that doesn't really make me sad anymore. This is not heaven and this isn't the garden, we got thrown out of there a long time ago.

    Like Liz pointed out this is a bad place with lots of bad things happening all around us. But I remind myself all the time that my treasure is not here. Maybe the greatest sadness of this would have been if the family had not known God and then where would they be now? God loves us Shaun or he wouldn't pursue us and desire that relationship so much that he sent his Son to go through the ultimate pain and sacrifice for all of us. All our sins on him in those last moments on the cross. I can only imagine what a dark place that was.

    Keep writing, Shaun! Sharing ideas and thoughts….the good and the bad, just helps us keep moving forward!

  • S Loire King

    I appreciate your posts.
    It is what you pinned to you chest in the ER that night: I still believe in the Goodness of God.
    I don't know how I would feel…..I have stood by and watch my mother die from a horrendous cancer all the while believing she was healed….the same cancer that my 12 year old daughter had.
    I understand Stand Offs too.
    I am glad you grapple in public with what we all grapple in private. It invites us in & you are right, having a faith which can't withstand this, isn't really a faith, now is it.


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  • Tash

    I am not a church-going person. I am not even sure if I am a believer in my heart – if I were, that would be where if I believe in God, is the only place it will count. No answer here other than to say In my review and re-review and conversations and bible reading and more review – none of it matters; the pain, the evil, murders, starvation, rape. None of it. For to believe in God you have to believe that none of it matters, it is all a "story" if you will, for this physical world. According to the bible There is only truly ever one sin. God forgives and comforts everyone if only they believe. Believing does not mean God does anything for the living. It is only a promise that if you believe, then upon the physical death the soul, dormant in the physical plane will be permitted to live in the spiritual world. Everything else in the bible in my opinion is there as a guideline b/c it was known people would not behave and therefore would do wrong which moves them away from God – further away from believing. If one truly believes one can never do wrong because then they wouldn't be believing.

  • Tracey Axnick

    God IS all powerful…. God IS loving.
    But yet God allows evil to continue in our world.
    It's that age-old problem that has plagued all believes…. "the problem of pain" C.S. Lewis called it.

    We know why evil exists in our world…. it's because God gave us free will. And we, collectively, created a broken world in which we must exist.
    Which is why Jesus had his "33 year mission trip" to Earth…. to offer us freedom from the yoke of slavery, and redemption.

    I realize it's not an emotionally satisfying answer, and I can't even begin to fathom the hurt, anger, horror and pain that this man is enduring…. but I do know that God can (and does) work even through unspeakable tragedies…. and God is weaving an amazing and intricate tapestry through all of our lives.

    And, one day, we'll see the masterpiece he is creating.

    Perhaps it seemed that evil won a battle on that day.
    But make no mistake: evil has already lost the war… Satan is a vanquished foe.
    We must have faith… and continue striving forward.
    And God's love endures forever.

  • Cortez

    I agree with what Tracey stated. A person has to give an account for human freedom when talking about such things. If we desire God to destroy evil, the next question that follows is this: "when" should he destroy it? For example, in the case of murder, should God intervene by stopping the bullets while in flight? Should God intervene by breaking the trigger? Should God intervene when the person was driving on the road to go kill the person? Should God intervene while the person was thinking about about committing the murder? Evil emerges from the mind, so if we really desire God to destroy evil, he would have to destroy everyone one because our thoughts are evil. Some people, however, never carry out those thoughts.

    You can see where I am going with this. God allows freewill, and God has never obligated himself to intervene in every evil situation. He does intervene and has intervened but that does not mean he will intervene in every situation. Remove freewill, yes, you will remove evil, but you will also removed good. Why? Removing freewill removes love. Human freedom is a precondition for human love. Therefore, God allows humans to operate with freedom because love is the greatest.

    Where was God? He was at the same place when his Son was being crucified on the cross, destroying the power of evil, making available salvation to all whom believe. Jesus is more concern about the heart of man, not necessarily the actions. That, in part, is what the cross of Christ addresses.

    check out:

    These people has help me come to terms with some of these questions.

  • stan

    Keep asking the questions. The truth is more people in our pews are asking them than we care to admit – as if it were something horrible.

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