In the Lord’s prayer we pray that God will ‘deliver us from evil’.
Do we believe that God will protect us from bad things happening to us?
Bad things do happen to many of us and sometimes we have lucky escapes. For many years people thought that bad things happened because God was punishing us.
But perhaps it is not God who is punishing us, but realising the consequences of our actions, and those of others.
Something pretty bad happened to Jesus when he was crucified, not for his own faults, but for those of a bigoted and self-important national leadership.
I think that the idea of punishment and consequence is actually not that abhorrent, nor that God does not from time to time test us. However, clearly God is not always directly responsible for our suffering.
For example, we sometimes suffer, for the faults of others: Is the Syrian refugee child responsible for lack of education or home? Are his parents? Clearly not, but there are politicians who are responsible! Were our parents responsible for the suffering and death caused through fighting a war against the Nazis? No, the responsibility and cause was not theirs, their response was bold and heroic. The fault lay with others.
By the same token, if people living on low lying Pacific islands fall beneath the waves of a rising sea, we know it will be due to the world’s carbon emissions. That is not their fault, but is it ours? It must be partly – ours and other industrialized nations. And are we doing anything about it?
God has created a world in which bad things can happen. And sometimes there is a cause. Our prayer that God will ‘deliver us from evil’, is perhaps not only asking for protection, but is a heartfelt prayer that God will help us to see the effect of our actions and to stop doing the bad (repentance) and live a better way (‘that we may hereafter live a godly, righteous and sober life to the glory of thy holy name’).
May that prayer be ours.
With my best wishes,