Where was God on March 11th ?!!
And where is God now ?!!
A few days previous, I had been reading a book by Madame Guyon – the 17th century French mystic, who was making the very good point that God is with us when everything seems to be going wrong just as much as when everything seems fine. God was with Joseph just as much during his years in prison as He was in the Palace. God was with Daniel just as much in the Palace as in the Lion’s den.
God is with us just as much when we’re feeling dreadful as when we’re feeling great. Just as much when our circumstances are difficult as when they’re easy.
It’s important we remember this, for our faith often otherwise goes up and down with our feelings or circumstances.
When we value the creation above the Creator we have a problem! What is important is God Himself, not His gifts and if our focussing on His blessings and gifts takes us away from He Himself, then His gifts are no longer blessings and the actual way for God to then bless us is by taking His gifts from us! We then no longer can put our trust in the gift, but must return to the Giver.
Madame Guyon at times is extremely profound and from hard personal experience she had learnt
Affliction is mercy in disguise
We possess by first being deprived
Death precedes life
Destruction is the spiritual experience that leads to renovation
Out of the sorrows and silence of inward crucifixion
and from no other source
must grow the jubilees of everlasting bliss
We’re now in the run-up to Easter, we think of how the Cross had to come before the Resurrection. We think of what God the Father’s pain and suffering must have been in not just seeing us mock and torture His wonderful Son, but in allowing it to happen. And then even more – for Jesus the Holy One of God to actually die for us, sinning humanity.
What love of God the Father for us! What love of God the Son for us! Can tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword, separate us from this love?
No! Paul was persuaded that nothing could separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ.
When we look to the disaster in Japan – 9,080 people confirmed dead; 13,561 missing; we see the devastation and the hundreds of thousands of people living in temporary shelters and the further hundreds of thousands in their own homes but still without electricity after 11 days (as at 22/3/2011), it can be difficult to remember this.
But we mustn’t let death … nor things present, nor things to come… nor any created thing nor the destruction of any created thing shake our trust and faith in God and His love to us in Jesus Christ. We overcome all these things through Christ Jesus who loves us.
(Romans 8.35, 37-39 paraphrased)
When we look at the troubles of this world and our faith is shaken thereby, let us look to the Cross. Let us this Easter look to the Cross and see that nothing can negate such love. And let us remember that Jesus never said that our lives would be without troubles. What he said was, In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
Where was God on March 11th ? Right there!
Where’s God now? Right here! Suffering with us!
It’s sometimes difficult for us to see. When we find it so difficult, let’s pray to Him to reveal Himself to us – that we may sense His Presence – the Presence of God!
And let us pray that out of this disaster, good may come! We’ve already seen North Korea unilaterally and unconditionally agree to return to the 6-way talks. A number of other jurisdictions are having second thoughts about their nuclear ambitions. And the world at large, including China, Russia and the US, have rallied round offering support and practical help to Japan. Maybe mankind will recognise that humanity is not the greatest force in the world! Maybe our rulers and leaders will come to learn who is! the great I AM!
Something like this puts other problems and disputes into perspective. It gives us the opportunity to think about what really is important in life. Maybe good indeed will come out of it. We should certainly hope so. But as Christians we should have faith in this, we should believe this.
There seems no rhyme or reason why it should have been Japan that was so hard hit. So many countries can, in the common expression, say, “there but for the grace of God goes I”. But that simply gives us a greater sympathy, a greater empathy.
Let’s pray for the people of Japan that in all their difficulties, and in all their pain and suffering they may know the world stands by them. And also that God stands by them. That they may know both the human love and care of our common humanity, but also that they may sense here and now amidst all the tragedy the loving presence of God.
At Easter we look to the Cross and that changes our perspective on everything. Good does come out of suffering. Death and pain do not have the last word. Good does overcome evil! And the sufferings of this world are nothing to the joys of the next – and of course it’s the eternity ahead of us that’s what really matters.
Let’s not put our trust in temporal things. We then won’t be shaken when they fail.
And in the words of Madame Guyon, let’s not be satisfied with
consolation and peace
the gift of God rather than the Giver
but rather, let’s seek for
not merely consolation, but the God of consolation
not merely peace, but the God of peace.
And remember that the Cross proves that God loves us and cares for us – nothing can negate this!
And that although it doesn’t always seem like it whilst we’re in this world, yet
all things work for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.