It generally is said that God is everywhere. Yet, when you most urgently need him, it seems that he does a disappearing act and is nowhere to be found. That has been the presumed experience of a large number of people. But is it God who does a disappearing act? I recently had someone extol the benefits of being aligned with Satan--jobs, promotions, etc. She stated that God does not generally offer these rewards. As someone who, for the past five months has been supporting this blogging activity and everything else with a meager Unemployment Insurance check, the comparison was painful. But I know better than to blame God. Instead, I thank him for the many times he has provided very adequate employment. I also know that when it seems that he is not present to our difficult situations, that perception is false.
That the results of prayer sometimes seem inadequate is in part a consequence of the fact that we are required to live in community with others, and God generally acts in the context of our community. For example, when God sought a massive response to hurricane Katrina, he did not send Angels from heaven. Instead, he sought responders in the community of people, as is also true when he responds to the individual prayers of his people. When Satan seeks to reward his cohorts, he also seeks responders from among the community of people. When God seeks responders for an emergency such as a natural disaster, the response is massive and overwhelming, irrespective of the victims' religion. When he seeks responders for individual emergency situations such as ill health, the response often is mixed. In contrast, Satan, being the author of the natural disasters, has little concern for the victims. Nor does he care about individual emergencies that he himself has authored. His only concern is in rewarding his cohorts for their part in the planning and execution of his evil agenda.
It is worth noting that the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) taught about our responses to individual "neighbors" not necessarily mass emergencies. In mass emergencies, there is an opportunity to see and be seen. In individual emergencies, there are few if any opportunities for public applause. It is our responses to these individual emergencies that God uses to judge the condition of our hearts. When we can consistently respond with equal mercy toward one as toward a large group, we will know that we finally have entered the realm of the blessed "merciful" (Matthew 5:7).