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The Do-nothing God

March 20, 2013

If you were to gather a group of evangelicals together and call for a prayer meeting, for the most part, they would all be comfortable and at home.  Prayer meeting?  Sure, count me in.  If you were then to start the meeting with a round of praise, calling for everyone to give short praises to God, heads would nod.  Once again, we evangelicals know how to do that, don’t we?  And so the praises would start.

God, you reign.  God, you heal.  God you redeem us.  God, you defend the weak.  God, you speak to us.  God, you pour out blessings.  God, you forgive us.  God, you judge the wicked.  God, you fill us.  And on and on we can go.  I bet most of us could keep this up for as long as needed and take joy in praising God.

If you listen to our praise list there is one thing that is clear.  We worship a God who is one busy guy.  Just look at all those action verbs that describe Him.  He does all that stuff and more and still has time left over the run the universe.  It is so wonderful to have a God who is so active in His goodness.

Except sometimes He isn’t.

Peggy and I have been in an elder care situation with her mother for nine years now.  We’ve watched the physical and mental decline of this formerly active godly woman for a long time.  A year and a half ago, after she survived yet another crisis we thought would take her, she had declined so much that we could no longer care for her physical needs.  We now visit her daily in an institution where she sits in near total infirmity, falling further and further out of touch with reality.  And God is doing nothing.

This is not an uncommon thing.  People fight cancer or other diseases and go through painful declines wondering where the God who heals might be.

Marriages that started with hope and promise fall apart and we wonder how, if we were supposed to be a picture of Christ and the church, this could have happened.  Where was God?

Jobs are lost.  Natural disasters tear lives apart.  A drunk driver shatters a family.  Miscarriages devastate the hopes of young couples.  The list of things where we cry for an active interceding God is endless.

None of this goes down well at praise time in the prayer meeting.  It feels good to praise that action-packed God.   We need to make excuses for the God who seems to do nothing.  Maybe it was our lack of faith.  Maybe His grand plan for greater good includes this misery for us.  He certainly would never give us more than we can bear.

I can’t help but wonder if God doesn’t actually want us to defend Him; perhaps even that He gives an indulgent smile toward us when we are rattling off those action-attributes.  I can’t help but wonder whether, through the incarnation, God was also giving us the ability to have an image in our head for such times as this.

Whatever our image of Jesus, be it from a Hollywood epic or something else, we have a way to wrap our heads around an infinite God.  And perhaps when we do we “see” Jesus sit down beside us, eyes full of compassion and love.  In such a moment we can “feel” Him take our hand, and “hear” Him whisper –

“I know.  And I am here.”


From → Christianity

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