Q. There’s this person I’ve been talking to for over 5 years on a message board we both belong to. Over time I have found out that he was once a pastor who now claims to be an unbeliever (he is very militant in his denial of God). During one of our many discussions about the existence of God he said, “If God exists and still performs miracles as you Christians believe, why doesn’t he ever regrow people’s limbs that they’ve lost? I couldn’t answer the question.
I don’t think he’s really an atheist. I think something bad happened to him and now he’s mad at God and is rebelling against him. I don’t know him personally, but I feel that I should help him and I don’t know how. Could you assist me in this?
A. The amputee question is another one of the atheist’s favorites, because there really isn’t any answer. The truth is, while we know He could, we don’t know whether God has ever restored an amputee’s limb or not. We know that Jesus made paralytics walk (Mark 2:10-12), straightened withered limbs (Luke 6:10), and performed many other such miracles.
But God’s dealings with others have nothing to do with our belief in what He’s done for us, so the question is really irrelevant where your friend’s relationship with the Lord is concerned. It’s more of a put-off than anything else, an excuse rather than a reason.
The real question is, would this man actually choose to burn in Hell for eternity because God didn’t restore someone else’s missing limb? It would be much better to be like the young men who were about to be thrown in the furnace in Daniel 3. They told King Nebuchadnezzar, “Our God is able to save us, but even if He doesn’t we will not serve your god or worship him” (Daniel 3:17-18).
Our faith does not depend on the performance of miracles. It depends on our belief that Jesus is who He claims to be, and has done for us what He claims to have done.
If this man was ever a believer then he’s one forever and the Lord will restore him. He’s the Good Shepherd who has promised never to lose any of His flock (John 6:39). The best thing you can do is intercede for your friend, that his heart would be softened.