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God Hates Amputees?

OK, this has been bothering me for a while, so I’m going to bring it to your attention.

Jesus’s promise in the New Testament (Mark 11:24): “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”  There are numerous promises such as these.

Either he’s absolutely right (no reading into the verse allowed!), or he’s absolutely wrong.  Have you ever asked for something and not received it?  Yes?  Me, too!

I was told as a child that you had to ask in his name, and if you did ask in his name, and you didn’t receive it, well, you weren’t asking correctly, or he had other plans, or you didn’t have enough faith.  Here’s what I think today.  We need to stop making excuses for Jesus.  We need to take him at his word.  Don’t put words in his mouth.  If you do, you’re embellishing.  If someone promises you something, you expect it.

Let’s take a most extreme example.  Have you ever known an amputee to regrow a limb?  No?  Me, neither.  Why not?  Wouldn’t you think that if Jesus meant what he said, there would be at least one example of such a case?  But there’s not.  That I know of anyway.

I hate to break it to you, but I’m not sure other healings are rightly attributed to God’s marvelous, miraculous graces, either.  My husband and I often talk about this, since he’s in the medical field.  In the past, when we were still attending church, we sat in Sunday School classes and listened to well meaning people go on and on about how God cured them.  The cancer was there, and now—amazing!—it’s gone.  Their doctor can’t believe it!  They’ve been cured!

There’s a huge problem with this.  I can’t begin to tell you how many wrong diagnoses and incompetent doctors there are out there.  Then there’s the whole possibility of chemo and radiation actually working!  Why do we immediately attribute a positive change to God?  Might it be that there are other things going on?

Many years ago, I knew a woman.  She was loving, kind, and thoughtful.  She was a devout Christian, and she happened to suffer from chronic infections, of the sort where her condition worsened each time she had one.  She endured multiple surgeries, and during each one, she and her family were surrounded by praying friends.  Now, this woman was what I would call a prayer warrior (in fact, I know she prayed for me daily).  I’m not sure if she prayed to be healed, but I’m almost positive that would have been one of her prayers.  But do you know what she was told by certain Christian friends?  That she must not have had enough faith, because you know, that whole verse about having as much faith as a mustard seed?  Yeah.  If you did have that teensiest amount of faith, you’d be able to move mountains.  That hurt her tremendously, I know.  [The emotional abuse that goes on at this level is really mind-boggling.]

By the way, have you ever known anyone who was able to move mountains?  And I’m not talking little sand piles at the beach.

Why do we keep excusing God from what he’s said he would do?  What if…those verses are wrong?  What if…Jesus never said those words?  What if…we’ve created a God who promises us unbelievable things, and then, like dysfunctional children, we’ve let Him off the hook, time and time again, because we don’t want to be disappointed?

Or we could go one step further, and say there is no God, seeing as there are no amputees who’ve been healed.

What do you think?

For more reading on this, see the website Why Won’t God Heal Amputees.  It’s food for thought, anyway.

[Post image: Praying for you by abcdz2000 on stock.xchng]

13 Comments


  1. Zac Parsons
    Sep 20, 2011

    Totally didn’t know where you were going with this article, but the title drew me in, big time.

    I feel that I gave God the same kinds of excuses for unanswered prayers that you describe above. If something good happens a posteriori of a prayer, then God is good! But if nothing bad happens, or the situation gets worse, then either it’s not God’s will, or perhaps we were not faithful enough to sway His perfect plan.

    Either way, God comes out smelling like roses.

    Total side note – I thought your article was going to talk about the lack of amputees in heaven, and how people would be shocked and saddened by such a sight (in a place where everyone gets a new body).

    Great stuff, as always!


    • Elissa
      Sep 20, 2011

      Zac,

      LOL. I can’t speak to what happens in heaven. I’m not even sure there is such a thing! All I know is the more research I do, the more it points to us concocting this dysfunctional being (okay, Being) who’s similar to our own fathers, or at least our own relatives who are wishy-washy, sometimes nice, sometimes mean-spirited, and the reason we can “let God off the hook,” is because we do the same to our relatives. Over and over again. We do it so we can make some “sense” (although what kind of sense is it, really?) of our world.

      A parent doesn’t follow through with his promises. Oh well, bad day. Or maybe he really MEANT to follow through, but he thought better of it. Or maybe he sees the bigger picture, and his promise would have really hurt me. Good thing he changed his mind then.

      You get the gist…


  2. Dana M.
    Sep 20, 2011

    As an above the knee amputee of 26 years and as a Christian, I felt an urge to reply to this post though I don’t typically comment on blogs. All I can tell you is my story. I have never, ever prayed for my limb to grow back; neither my parents nor I prayed for the cancer that took my limb to go away; I don’t pray for healing from the chronic and often severe pain of walking on something less than God originally gave for so many years. My prayers have been that I would be thankful (for even though I am an amputee, there is much in my life to be thankful for), that God would give me grace to go through whatever He ordains for me to go through, and that I would learn more of Him through those experiences, and that, in some small way, others may see Him through me. He has done that. God is not a hater of amputees because those who may pray for their limbs to grow back don’t have those prayers answered. God is not a hater of amputees because those who go to “faith” healers come away still in prostheses or on crutches. The promises are given to God’s people–I don’t think they were intended to be seen as wish granters. I also think that, as a Christian grows, their prayers actually reflect more of God–and they mature to realize that God’s plan for them isn’t necessarily their comfort, health, or wealth. His plan for them is for them to become more like Him.

    If you are interested, here is the link to a piece I wrote about this–it’s a bit more detailed so it may more sense than my comment here does :)!

    http://havenstorch.blogspot.com/2005/06/my-story_02.html


    • Elissa
      Sep 20, 2011

      Thank you for responding, Dana. Perhaps my title was misleading. I don’t personally think that IF there were a God he would hate anyone–amputees included. My point was: why is it that amputees are not “healed,” yet we regularly hear of cancer patients being “healed?”

      I’m going to ask a tough question here (I hope you don’t mind): Why haven’t you prayed for your limb to grow back? Is it because it would be impossible? And if it’s impossible, then we have to admit God cannot do SOME things. And going further, perhaps we’re reading into God’s promises to heal. Perhaps the reason you contracted cancer and lost a limb was because that’s what happens to people—good or bad. That’s just the way it is. [And I think you might realize this already—that bad things happen to all…look at the Psalms and Proverbs, for starters.] That was my point.

      These are tough questions to answer, I know, and I’m not trying to change your worldview in a blog post. LOL. I’m just raising the questions that need to be raised, if we’re to believe God’s promises. Does that make sense? I’m happy that you’ve reconciled your amputation with your life’s purpose. I’m not berating that at all. Please know that. I admire how you’ve come through it all!

      But still, I think the question remains. God does not answer all prayers, as that verse states. So, rather than make excuses for him (we’re not asking the right way, or we’re not asking for the right things), we need to ask, “Is God trustworthy? Will he stand behind what he says?” And if not, how are we to continue our projections (that “God’s plan for us isn’t necessarily our comfort, health, or wealth”). Where does it say that in the Bible?

      Thank you SO much for contributing to the conversation, Dana. SO appreciate it.

      Off to read your story. 🙂


  3. Dana M.
    Sep 20, 2011

    Hi,
    I don’t mind answering any question :)! I will offer these caveats: I am no theological genius and what I say is from my heart and is as honest as I know how to be. I don’t pray for my limb to grow back because it is impossible but rather because of the impossible that God has already done in my life. Finding out that I had a very rare, very aggressive form of cancer, losing my leg, and going through chemo at 16 was a truly awful experience. However, looking back now at the person I was then and how utterly useless, unattractive, and lonely I felt much of the time, it’s easy for me to see the work that God did. Coming to accept my life as an amputee–seeing it as useful and being able to see past much of the pain that is associated with is the impossible that God accomplished. I don’t think that growing a limb back is impossible for God (and I don’t see His not doing it if someone prays that way as a reflection of His ability or lack thereof)–I do think that He is most glorified in our weakness.

    Why? I have no clue. I long since accepted the fact that there are many, many questions that I will not know the answer to; questions that God chooses not to answer. I’m alright with not knowing and trusting in Him in much the same way my daughter is (and has to be) alright with the fact that are some things I won’t let her do simply because I know what is best for her.

    God does answer prayers and, I believe now, that He answers all of them. His answers may not be what we want them to be or what we think of as just and fair, and His answers may even be NO. For me, this is where the impossible comes in again. In my finite mind, seeing God as a loving Father with my best in His heart is difficult because the only Father I know is an earthly one who is just as sinful as I am and who made many, many mistakes. Being able to see past that, realizing that God is infinitely better than my Father, and resting in that is the impossible that is being accomplished.

    I don’t have all the answers and I can’t quote you book, chapter, and verse for my beliefs without much time–and, like you, I’m not trying to change views. I’m just sharing my thoughts, for whatever they are worth ;)! Thanks for taking the time to read.


    • Elissa
      Sep 21, 2011

      Dana,

      I’m ecstatic you wrote back. 🙂 You, indeed, have been through an extremely difficult experience, and you’ve been able to interpret it a certain way, and come away feeling like you have a handle on what it is you went through (or are going through). I suspect many more people may agree with you than me, and that’s quite all right. We’re discussing, right?

      Let’s see if I can explain my side of the issue, only because I used to believe, as you do today. If there ever was a firm believer in God and his promises, it would have been me.

      My childhood was very Christian (as was the majority of my adult life). I grew up, though, in a family run more on subtext and inferences than on what was actually said. Therefore, if I was given a choice to, let’s say, wash the dishes or to run outside and play, I knew the correct answer (the one that would provide the least grief) was to wash the dishes. So, I became an expert (or so I thought) at reading mannerisms, little tics in the face, inflections in the voice, things like that. My mind became a running dialogue of what was REALLY being said. In fact, so much so, that when I met my future husband, he called me “read-in Lien,” Lien being my maiden name. 🙂

      As I began to read and explore my belief system (because this automatically gets thrown into the mix when you’re working on your own psychological and emotional healing), I began to realize that I had been taught likewise with the Bible, which, of course, was the inerrant word of God (at least it was for me THEN). I had learned the TRANSLATIONS of the text, not the text itself. So, when I read the verse, “Ask and it shall be given to you,” I didn’t just learn that, I learned the TRANSLATION, which was, “Ask with a right heart, and if God decides it’s a good request, then he’ll grant it, or perhaps he won’t think it’s a good request, and then he won’t. He might give you something else. But, ALWAYS, he will answer your prayer.” Thing is: the text doesn’t say that. We can BELIEVE it says that, but the fact of the matter is that it doesn’t say that.

      So, we have several choices (actually many, but I’ll make it simple here). The Bible is the inerrant word of God, and we’ve distorted it by embellishing it. OR the Bible is NOT the inerrant word of God, but we’ve foisted it on ourselves and others anyway. OR God is not following through on his promises. OR we’ve created the God we WANT to exist. OR God likes some of us, and not others. I could continue, but I think I’ll leave it there…

      You see, I’m really sticking to what the text says, and going no further. And I think many Christians, including me (back then), have made the mistake of adding our own phrases and explanations, to make sense of it all. Which is completely normal to do, but in my humble opinion, we need to stop and take a hard look at what we’re doing. To admit, at least, that that’s what we’re doing…

      Don’t get me wrong. I’m not judging you in any way. I’m simply letting you into my mind a little, to explain where I’m coming from.

      LOVED reading your story. And what a lovely surprise in Gracen. So happy for you!


  4. dasephix
    Sep 20, 2011

    Interesting post, as always, It really grabbed my attention…

    I find it troublesome, when people attribute their ability to endure their own experiences solely to God. I don’t necessarily think it sheds light on our capabilities as humans, to work with life in whatever context that is.

    I suppose this ability is attributed to God because some people have endured difficult experiences with a capacity that would seem to be supernatural, but only because they initially had believed themselves not capable. To a degree, I would attribute this capability to the wisdom that develops when one makes a choice to engage the difficult circumstance (regardless if one were conscious of the idea that the circumstance would allow one to grow as person, but because one knew one was still living), rather than to distance oneself from it.

    I think the issue becomes further conflicting, when people make such attributions solely to God because of the nature of language. It becomes a question of Faith, or No Faith, too little Faith or too much. Ultimately, I think that this kind view evolves into the line of thinking that separates those that know God and those that don’t, in addition to those who reject or those that submit.

    Essentially, I can only speak for myself, as it is clearly obvious that Christians derive much meaning from their relationship with God, of which it not my position to subvert their experience because I simply can’t. But it is also not to say that because I believe I am capable of enduring my own share of experiences because I believe in the human capacity, that it is entirely different from what Christians mean to say, when God gives them the grace to work with the difficulties in their lives. I hope I understood Elissa’s position, regarding her post, With or Without God, on the similarities in how people create meaning in their lives.

    In the end, my conflict is with the language with certain kinds of Christian thought that implies a kind of exclusivity, when God is brought into question, in addition to how the language suggests that one can know what God wills, or what promises “He” fulfills to “His people”. How can someone truly know that and speak for God? The Bible might say so, but I think to even suggest certainties when speaking of God or of the “His” word, is analogue to believing cubes of ice in water are not by their very nature water in transition.


    • Elissa
      Sep 21, 2011

      Dasephix,

      This has been my core struggle. Why do we have to have God to have meaning in our lives? Why is it that we are not capable on our own? Certainly, it’s a Catch-22, because if you asked a Christian, “Who made you?,” he’d say God, and he’d go on to say how wonderfully God created him, but then hardship appears, and he’s instantly thrown into a situation where he is unable to do it without God’s help and power. I understand both sides, because I’ve lived both sides. [Although, to be honest, I think my prayers, when I prayed, were knee-jerk reactions, something I had been taught to do in certain instances.]

      And I don’t think there is any argument against the term “faith.” Definitely, I would not try to take that from a believer. On the contrary, he or she will believe whatever it is that is important to him or her at the stage of life he or she is in. That’s just the way it works. But faith is used as a circular reasoning tool, or maybe a better way to describe it would be a cul-de-sac, a dead end to any discussion. When you discuss the validity of the Bible, the other person ultimately comes back to…”Well, I just have faith.” That’s fine and dandy, but just because you have faith doesn’t mean it’s true. That’s a difficult thing for many to admit.

      So, in these blog posts, I raise these questions not to change someone’s mind (I can’t do that in the amount of time I have), but to raise awareness of one’s thought processes, because when you start to wake up and realize HOW you’ve been designing your arguments in your head and where they fall short, you have to make a shift in a new direction. Scary at times? Yes. Change is always a little discombobulating. But necessary…and invigorating…if you want to continue growing and learning the rest of your life.

      I think you’re on a similar journey to mine, but then again, I don’t want to put words in your mouth. LOL.

      It’s funny. This really has little to do with our discussion, but the other night, as my husband and I were going to bed, I said, “You know, it bothers me that in religion, it’s supposed to be a good thing when you STOP questioning and you KNOW, once and for all, what you believe, yet in science, that’s a bad thing. If we all stop searching in science, we’d be at a sore disadvantage to deal with diseases, global warming, discovery. Why can’t we grow spiritually, too? Why do we have to ARRIVE some day?”


  5. dasephix
    Sep 21, 2011

    Thank you for providing some insight into your experience Elissa! And, I have to thank Dana too for having shared her experience with everyone in the discussion, and apologize if what I had initially added to the discussion seemed like an attack of her faith or of the Christian tradition as a whole, as I still deal with personal conflicts with it because of my history… again not my intention.

    I like to believe my questions are only really directed at the concepts and ideas themselves, as any experience despite Religion, cannot really express the intrinsic value of any person’s experience, but rather are extensions of it. Then again, how am I to argue that these are not inextricable when they have such weight to them, with how we identify with reality? I don’t know… and I’m quite alright if it stays that way, because even the questions are contingent on me living to come to know them, or to not know them.

    My point being, is that it would be unfortunate to categorize ourselves in certain ways, even by how we come to know something, anything. Although how we create meaning is different, as you have said Elissa, the discussion ends if we are to say ” I just have faith.” I think this is the cause for dissonance with ourselves and others, because of the stasis of “God’s word”, as humanity continues to change and grow.

    I have so much running through my mind since I have engaged your blog, among other blogs that I have found regarding mindfulness, awareness, and the Christian experience. Thank you!


    • Elissa
      Sep 21, 2011

      Dasephix,

      I don’t think you sounded antagonistic at all. I thought you handled it very tactfully and insightfully. I think anyone who posts here has to know it’s a safe place to voice a kind and thoughtful opinion. And Dana did a superb job, too. She could have been very angry with my post, and thankfully, she engaged with the topic, and didn’t attack. LOVE when that happens. [If you’re reading this, Dana, I don’t mean to talk about you in third person, but this IS addressed to Dasephix…☺]

      You’ve “caught on,” too, with where I’m at. I’m sitting in the questions and learning to be comfortable with their unanswerableness (is that even a word?).

      And I would agree with you on the labeling, if that’s what you mean. How can we label ourselves Christian or Buddhist or Hindu or Islam or atheist or agnostic, because there are so many variations of each? Rather, we must open-mindedly and kindly (there’s that word again!) be honest with where we’re at…because for many of us our thoughts change daily, weekly, the more we learn.

      I hope that made sense.

      Again, thanks for your thoughtfulness…and please DO share some websites you like. We’d all like to be reading them. Or at least I would. That is, if you feel comfortable sharing. ☺


  6. Don Rogers
    Sep 21, 2011

    The heart of my answer to the question here is that we really have no way of knowing what words came from the lips of Jesus. We get only paraphrases, embellishments, and in many cases, the words that someone else put in Jesus’ mouth.


    • Elissa
      Sep 21, 2011

      And yes, I would agree with that…

  7. […] My question for you: if you believe in God or a higher power, do you actually think you can pray to make it rain (as Perry thought he could)?  And if you reject that notion (but still believe in God), then what good is prayer?  [I might remind you of Jesus's promises on prayer, which we talked about on Tuesday.] […]

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The quote I live by

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
--Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet

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