The God Who Does Nothing.

I did an interview on Christian radio the other day, and had a little chat with God to ask if He had anything specific He wanted me to mention. He didn’t say anything, so I took that to mean He was happy for me to take the lead on this one. It used to worry me a lot when I asked God a specific question and He didn’t give me an answer, but now I simply take it to mean I pretty much already know what to do and He’s trusting me with it. I’ve learned to trust myself a little more, to be confident I’ll know what to do or say without having to question my experience or knowledge, or back off until I get some kind of direct instructions from The Top. I already have the direct instructions.

Be kind to people. Love and help them. Take care of yourself. Don’t be afraid.

This pretty much sums it up.

After the interview, I chatted with God about my next book. It’s been on my mind to write a book about having cancer which, rather than painting God as some kind of hundred point multi-disciplinary cancer fighting team (surgeon, psychologist, father, mother, counsellor, friend, oncologist, x-ray machine, deity, pastor, fairy God-mother etc) has God actually not doing very much. Mainly because when I had cancer, God didn’t actually do very much. Not to say He wasn’t around, because He was, but there aren’t many verbs I can think of to describe things He got up to, because He was just kind of there, and that’s all.

For most of my Christian experience, I’ve only ever heard God described in verbs. Very busy verbs.

God reigns. He rules. He moves. He does. God breathes, sings, heals, rains down and turns up. God visits, God leaves, God judges and forgives, redeems and comforts. God fills, empties, fights, defends, intercedes, allows, prevents, motivates, encourages, pushes forward, holds back, elevates and humbles. God speaks, God withholds. God blesses, God condemns. God comes and goes and comes and God goes away again.

God as a god who is always up to something, and if we don’t perceive Him to be at it somehow, then God is absent. Gone. Left the building.

Except not.

God didn’t do much when I was ill. I don’t know why, and actually, I don’t know what I expected Him to do. I hoped He’d heal me, but I didn’t really know what that would be like. I hoped He’d make my family feel less afraid. I hoped my having cancer wasn’t some kind of punishment and He’d be showing me in various ways what I was supposed to be learning from it.

But He didn’t.

I know He knows everything, but if God knows the reason behind my having cancer, He’s never told me what it is.

I often asked God where He was when the very bad things were happening to us, and what the hell He was or wasn’t doing. I never got anything different from Him than “I’m here.” Never another answer. Not a promise or a guarantee. Just “I’m here.” I wasn’t used to it. I was used to God and all the verbs. God just being God at a time like that seemed fairly – well – unfair. If God ever needed to be doing something, surely it was then?

But maybe there isn’t anything left to be done. Maybe Jesus really meant it when He said “It is finished.”

image credit: iStockphoto
image credit: iStockphoto


I have this visualisation I do to help me go to sleep. I imagine myself hanging with God somewhere peaceful and relaxing, in a state where neither He nor I feel any obligation to run off and start doing something more important. Usually, we’re sitting on the seashore at night just being a part of the waves and the sand and the stars and the moon. God is never in a hurry to be anywhere else doing something more important. Funny how I’m the one who has to make myself stay there, even in a mental visualisation exercise, force myself not do anything, despite the fact you’d think God had plenty He could be doing that time of night.

I wonder if all these verbs we have for God have anything to do with Him at all, and have more to do with our expectations of ourselves? To fix things? To cure cancer? To make it make sense, or make something happen, or to be seen to be making something happen?

At times I’ve felt a huge obligation to make sense of my cancer experience, not just for myself but for others. God, however, has seemingly not felt the same way. I’ve asked Him, He says nothing on the subject except “It happened.” And I ask Him where He was, and He says “There.”

Don’t be a dick, I say. God smiles.


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17 thoughts on “The God Who Does Nothing.

  1. I love this. For years it’s enthralled me that when asked directly, “who are you?” God’s self-description was “I am that I am.” Hadn’t ever thought about how busy the verbs are that we insist upon ascribing. I really appreciate your thoughts.

  2. Wow… I was sick for several months last year, and had surgery, and I didn’t really learn any huge lesson from God, didn’t really feel “closer to him because of suffering”- nothing like that. No answers. It’s just a thing that happened and I’ve mostly gotten better and I suppose God has been with me… And I kind of feel like a bad Christian for not having some big inspirational thing to say about how I discovered God’s power or whatever.

    Anyway, thanks for writing this. Sometimes God doesn’t do stuff. But he’s always with us. 🙂

  3. No disrespect, brothers. I know He is real, but I dont believe He does anything like what is written in the bible. I have yet to hear or see anything similiar to miracles or healings. So… it cant be that no one person has enough faith to achieve a state of spirituality where they are used by God to heal and perform miracles. And what seems like the “He is here with me” or ” here I am” state of mind is just that… no more than ourselves telling that to… well, ourselves. No one is telling you they are with you, God most certainly does not tell you that. And dont say “I felt it in my heart”, because gambling addicts will say the same thing. They feel like they are going to win the next hand. Always the next hand. Nevertheless, He is real, just not doing much these days.

    1. Well said. Human theology has created such melodramas and imagines that have been broadcast from pulpits forever!
      How divisive these ‘teachers’ were!! Filling in the gaps with their own man-made thoughts….

  4. Why be kind to people? What do they deserve from me? Both my parents were slways buying bible books, going to church and they both screwed me over bad. To hell with god

    1. I’m sorry to hear that.

      Unfortunately, just going to church doesn’t make one a true follower of Christ. And even true Christians have faults…many, in fact. So don’t blame God for people’s choices. We all have a choice whether to sin or hurt, whether to obey and help.

      1. Femacamper……God doesn’t need a bouncer or body guard! Let Him answer for Himself eh??
        Churchians are TOO_BUSY defending the invisible GOD!! STOP!

  5. Crying so Hard.
    Thought I was that one God.
    But now I Realize. Thinking somehow , Someway Ill Become what I want one day. Now Realizing , I wont.
    Im not that blessing right .
    Not special enough right God.
    Its Okay. Because now I see.
    See God, There are two Differences between you and the devil.
    1Your all Good and the devil is all Bad.
    2But he knows what its like to not make it ,Unlike you who was Uncreated so Perfect.
    Im Glad you brought it to my Attention tonight. Your so full of Surprises. I noticed Some things aren’t what they seem.
    What I’m saying is ..
    Either you Take my life now or Ill do it myself.
    Because I Rather Die than not live my dreams. ~KyyngJosh~

  6. I was raised in a Christian environment and have always prayed and worshipped god. I never gave it much thought until I needed him. That’s when prayers went unanswered and situations turned from bad to worse. Now I KNOW there is no god. No one to help you or comfort you or save you when things go bad. Preach to me all you want and say he’s preparing me for something better. BS!!! He abandoned me or lead me down the wrong path despite my prayer. I’m sure y’all will say it’s my fault or it’s a test or some crap like that but trust me…we are on our own. There’s no one looking down on us guiding in the right direction. Expect no help from a god that doesn’t exist or doesn’t care enough to help.

    1. Don’t assume God doesn’t exist because he doesn’t answer you in the way he expected. Sometimes he says “No,” even when it seems logical to us for him to say yes. Sometimes he says, “Wait.” And other times he says “Yes,” but not in the timing we expected, or perhaps not using the method we had hoped. God is mysterious. But he is very, very real.

  7. Christianity in its current form DOES NOT WORK.
    There needs to be an urgent paradigm shift as far too many people are sadly living very deceived lives.

  8. Religious Christianity has totally mis-represented God and Christ. I came into this religion with promises or deliverance, healing and wholeness…..nope, 28 years of deep struggle, pain and loss.
    His PR dept really have failed.

  9. 1) My Lord my God why have you forsaken me… 2) It is finished..
    The above sounds like realization to me. Perhaps the comforters, defenders & the warriors of God should think deeply in context as to why Jesus said what he said, having known his own fate much earlier.

    Who would want to be with a God in heaven who does nothing to bring justice for the suffering on Earth and allows evil to prosper via the Devil@formerly known as Archangel Lucifer. (Note : God allowed the creation of the Devil too)

    The icing on the cake is, God then goes on to have a contest with the Devil to test our faith with suffering and temptation while the wicked continuously prosper and reproduce??.. C’mon..
    Perhaps the pertinent question is whether God created Man or was it Man who created God for their selfish needs.

  10. Over 40 years my only prayer is an unanswered prayer. My season is over. My faith is gone. Abandoned and alone. Foresaken. As if there was a God. I believed I prayed and was committed. It’s all a lie. Blame the lack of faith or belief. Or maybe it’s not in his plan. Or surely he has something better and said no that was not for me. No no no. It’s all a lie. God is a lie. The reasons an excuses given and blame to those asking for gods grace are built on more lies. God is sometimes silent is just another way to perpetuate the lie. A good father gives good gifts. This god I believed in gave me nothing . No God would leave me alone and suffering for a lifetime. A cruel God perhaps?. Stop being a fool. God doesn’t exist. My life is spent. My time is over. God is a lie.

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