It is heart-breaking to see and hear the people of West Virginia, whose loved ones are almost certainly dead at the bottom a coal mine that exploded from a mixture of toxic dust and gases, say, Pray for our miners! I fully respect and empathize with their belief that they need Someone to depend on., to survive in such a difficult livelihood.
But coal-miners' families surely prayed for their miners throughout the 18th and 19th and 20th centuries, here and in Great Britain--and yet miners continued to die. Probably the families of coal miners in China also pray for their miners, and still they die in large numbers.
But over the past 50 years in the United States, the number of coal mine fatalities was drastically reduced, not by prayers, but by strong unions and strong government regulation. Maybe God never thought of that, or maybe God is the force in those union miners and those government bureaucrats who insist that the safety of working men is more important than the corporations' profits.
What those grieving families need to do, once their tears dry, is to use their churches and their union halls and their radio stations to stand up and say, Enough. We won't send our men down into unsafe mines with dozens of safety violations. We won't stand by, proud yet cowed, in fear that if we speak up, the only livelihood we have will move elsewhere.
Maybe they will recognize that God really doesn't work in such mysterious ways. He works in a very obvious way--through the actions of human beings who recognize their own worth and the worth of other people and who refuse to accept injustice and suffering as God's will.