“God has never let me down.” A friend told me this some time ago, and I asked him what he meant. What was this thing that God had never done? What would it look like if God had let you down? If God ever did let you down, how would you tell? I couldn’t get this guy to tell me a single hypothetical event that would constitute God letting him down.
We’ve all seen this in action. If you get a new job, it’s because God always provides for you. If you didn’t get the new job, it’s because God wants you to experience hardship a bit longer so you’ll truly appreciate happiness when it eventually comes. If your aunt survived cancer, it’s because God healed her. If she didn’t, it’s because God wants to teach you an important lesson about relying on him in difficult circumstances – maybe he helped you cope with your loss.
The “God has never let me down” hypothesis seems to fit any data. X happened – God has never let me down. X didn’t happen – God has never let me down.
I raised this with a different friend, and they told me of tsunami victims who had lost everything – possessions, homes, friends, family – yet they praised God because they were still alive! There’s a whole book of the Bible about that…
Well, if you’re ever wondering if God has let you down, I’ve prepared a simple flow chart. It may seem specific to one particular situation, but with a little creativity, you can adapt it to anything. I hope it’s helpful.
1. Have you experienced any natural disasters in your life?
- No? Praise God! God has kept you safe all your life! God has never let you down.
- Yes? Go to Question 2.
2. So, you’ve experience a natural disaster. Was your town kept safe?
- Yes? Praise God! God saved your town! God has never let you down.
- No? Go to Question 3.
3. So, an earthquake wiped out your village. Did all your family members survive?
- Yes? Praise God! God is looking after your family! God has never let you down.
- No? Go to Question 4.
4. So, you’ve lost a family member. Did you cope well?
- Yes? Praise God! God was there for you! God has never let you down.
- No? Go to Question 5.
5. So, you spiralled into depression. Did you get through it?
- Yes? Praise God! God helped you through your dark times! God has never let you down.
- No? Go to Question 6.
6. So you’ve been troubled by depression ever since. Have your friends helped you?
- Yes? Praise God! God has provided you with helpful friends! God has never let you down.
- No? Go to Question 7.
7. Have you resorted to substance abuse?
- No? Praise God! God has helped you steer clear of damaging behaviour! God has never let you down.
- Yes? Go to Question 8.
8. Did you eventually give up your destructive habits?
- Yes? Praise God! God has helped you conquer your demons! God has never let you down.
- No? Go to Question 9.
9. Are you at least still alive?
- Yes? Praise God! Um,… you’re still alive! God has never let you down.
You could go on like this for your whole life: making excuses, fitting any situation perfectly to the “God has never let me down” hypothesis. Unless everything – absolutely everything – has completely fallen apart, you’ll always be able to find something to give God credit for. Even if you’ve lost all you own and all the people dear to you, you’re still alive. You can (selfishly?) thank God for keeping your life in tact, and repeat the mantra: “God has never let me down”.
If you’d only consider that God might have let you down if you’d lost everything, including your very life, then how could you ever know God had let you down? You’d be dead before you could ever realise! But if you wouldn’t even count that as God letting you down, then it’s hard to imagine what could constitute God letting you down. And if there is no imaginable scenario that would count as God letting you down, then it is completely vacuous to proclaim that God has never let you down. Such a statement translates to: “See this list with no items on it? Well, God has never done any of those things!”
Now, a Christian might say, “Ah, but there is one way God could let me down – he could send me to Hell, despite promising not to.” But if the only way God could conceivably let you down occurs after you die, then it is still vacuous for a living person to say “God has never let me down”. Such a statement translates to: “God has never done to me, a living person, a thing he could only do to a dead person!”
If you think your God has never let you down, then you’re not alone. Hindus, Mormons, Muslims, and even Pastafarians are just as warranted to say that their God has never let them down. They could similarly define “letting you down” as something their God couldn’t even conceivably do, and then triumphantly proclaim that their God has never done it. A being does not even have to exist in order not to do an impossible thing. Unicorns have never let me down.
If you still disagree, if you still think your God has never let you down, and if you still think there is something impressive about this, then please nominate a scenario (no matter how hypothetical) that would convince you God had let you down.