Sun | May 26, 2019

Michael Abrahams | Where is God when little girls get raped and murdered?

Published:Monday | April 22, 2019 | 12:33 AM

I did not know Shantae Skyers. But I grieve for her. The little girl left for school one morning and never returned home. Her body was found five days later, dumped among rubble in bushes. The news left me numb, and she has been on my mind every day since. I shudder to think what she endured during her ordeal and I cannot even begin to imagine what her family is going through.

The child’s murder got me thinking about how many of us perceive God. I live in a country where the most popular religion is Christianity. The Christian concept of God is a being who not only loves and cares about us, but also, if we have faith, will be there for us. We pray like crazy in Jamaica, not only to express gratitude, but also to ask for stuff, and believe that God hears us and will respond in some way. But does God really care about us? If so, I am yet to see the evidence.

My Christian friends tell me that God is everywhere and sees everything: He (assuming God is male, although there is no evidence of that) is omnipresent. They say He can do anything: He is omnipotent. They believe that He knows everything, not only of events that took place in the past, but what will happen in the future: He is omniscient. They really believe all this. It is evident by the way they speak. They will say things like “He is able” and “His eye is on the sparrow”. By the way, sparrows get devoured by hawks all the time, and experience terrifying deaths, so I don’t even know why that is such a big deal.

So, if God knows everything, He would have known that someone was setting out to harm little Shantae. If He is everywhere and sees everything, He would have been present and watched as the child was stalked, grabbed, attacked, violated and killed, and her body discarded like trash. If He can do anything, He could have stopped the assailant in his tracks, but He did not.

I am not blaming God for the child’s death. I am not angry with God, either. I am not even questioning God. Good and bad things happen to good and bad people. That is just the way life is.

What perplexes me is the Christian concept of God. We are all entitled to our beliefs and we live in a world with thousands of religions and belief systems, ranging from the belief that there are no gods to doctrines claiming that there are multiple. I understand that. What I fail to understand is the insistence of Christians that God is loving and merciful and will protect you if you have faith. My issue is not with the Creator, but rather with the Biblical description of God and the expectations Christians have of their deity.

They believe that God can intervene, hence the popularity of intercessory prayer. According to their holy book, God has intervened to prevent murder. For example, when Abraham was about to kill his son and offer him as a sacrifice to God (after being instructed by God Himself to do so), the Lord sent an angel to stop him.

God has also intervened when people disobeyed Him. When Uzzah touched the Ark of the Covenant, God killed him instantly. When Lot’s wife looked back at Sodom as it burnt, she was turned into a “pillar of salt”. And of course, there was the great flood, when God drowned almost all humans on the planet, except for a family of eight who were sent on a forty-day cruise on a huge boat with livestock and wild animals.

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Christians will say “God nah sleep”, but I question the rationality of boasting that the god you praise and worship is everywhere and can do anything, but is present when children are raped, sodomized and murdered and does nothing.

If a very competent lifeguard were to stand beside a pool and watch a child drown, and not even attempt to save the child, would you praise him? If someone with a tenth-degree black belt in karate were to tell you that they sat in a room and watched an unarmed man sexually molest and strangle a toddler, but made no attempt to intervene, what would you think of that person?

Maybe God really is sleeping. According to the Bible, after He was doing the creation thing for six days, on the seventh day He rested. And Christians believe that a thousand days to us is like a day to God. So maybe God took a few days (a few thousand years) off.

My questions are not to provoke or offend the faithful. They are genuine, and not just asked out of curiosity. They are cause for concern, because many of us are forced to accept these beliefs, which influence the way we think, and the possibility exists that these beliefs could be erroneous.

Could it be that a Creator exists, but that the Biblical description of God is flawed? Do we have unrealistic expectations of God, believing that, like a genie in a bottle, if we “rub Him the right way”, He will grant us our wishes?

- Michael Abrahams is a gynaecologist and obstetrician, comedian and poet. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and michabe_1999@hotmail.com, or tweet @mikeyabrahams.