Thursday, 23 August 2012

Where Are You God?

I've been reading an article on the 'hiddenness' of God.

'But I cry to you for help, Lord;
    in the morning my prayer comes before you.
14 Why, Lord, do you reject me
    and hide your face from me?'

Psalm 88:13-14

It is a discussion Tom and I have had many times.  Tom has often spoke about the silence of God and God's hiddenness.  Tom decided that God was so hidden that God actually couldn't exist and so gave up altogether.  Many atheist's would say that there is no evidence of God's existence.

Christian's know only to well how distant God can seem.  Indeed, throughout the Story of God with us people have called out to God imploring him to answer prayers, make himself known and to draw near in comfort.  Above we hear the psalmist's cry of desperation, 'Why, LORD, do you reject me and hide your face from me?'

I am sure many have prayed this prayer or something similar.

Interwoven throughout this question of God's hiddenness is the question of suffering.  For throughout the history of humanity suffering has been a very real part of our story.  Many have looked at the suffering they see and know and have decided that there is no God.

'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'  Mark 15:34

In the depth of his suffering, Jesus felt abandoned and deserted by His Father.  Alone, suffering in the darkness.

Jesus bears the mark of his crucifixion into all eternity, a sign that his suffering is a very part of who he is but that he has ultimately redeemed the whole cosmos through his suffering.  We are included within that work of redemption and are beckoned to be shaped into His image.  For that shaping to happen we too will suffer and share in the suffering's of Jesus.  Humanity has a goal.  It is to be shaped into the image of the Son of God.

Sometimes we suffer in order to discover who we truly are, that we might more and more become who we are called to be, that we might become more like Jesus.

That is not to make light of suffering, it is actually to see it in light of Jesus' suffering and therefore realise that he knows us in our suffering and will be with us in the midst of it. 

When we cry out 'Where are you God?' it is merely an echo of Jesus' own cry on the cross.

Which brings us back to God's hiddenness.

At his death Jesus was taken down from the cross by friends.  It is the hands and compassion of friends that placed him in the tomb.  They had no idea, but they helped prepare the way for the resurrection.  God was at work through them.

When the church is truly the church, we encounter a God who is preparing the way of the new heavens and earth through one another, by the Spirit.  In the midst of our suffering and seeming silence of God we encounter God through one another.  It is the hands and compassion of God through the church that carry us through the darkness preparing us for the dawn of hope.  God is present in us and seeks to minister his love, grace and forgiveness through his people and to his people.

I know that church can be a place of pain, unforgiveness and hypocrisy.  I know that people have left the Christian faith altogether because of this.  And I'm sorry about this, I truly am.
But I also know that there are wonderful followers of Jesus who are daily stretching out their arms in acts of love and compassion, forgiveness and accountability, truthfully and authentically declaring that God has not forgotten the world, that God is present and is with us.

In the midst of the seeming silence and hiddenness you are not hidden from God, he has heard your prayer and maybe today you will encounter him through the hands and compassion of his people, those people being shaped into the image of His Son.

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