The weather in Australia is warming up again and here’s hoping there’s nothing like last summer’s bushfires up ahead of us. I’m praying our land will be spared that again, as I’m sure are many others.
Because, basically right now, we’re all looking for hope. We’re all looking for things to be better. But we’re being cautious because we know that sometimes things get worse before they get better. It’s kinda reach that point, hasn’t it?
Please… not another crazy bushfire season.
Please… not another wave of covid.
Please… (for the Victorians)… not another round of lockdown.
I’ve been watching a few US YouTube videos recently, so I’m going to add:
Please… no more gender reveal party explosions. Maybe no more gender reveal parties, full stop.
But what if things do get worse before they get better? What if we can’t enjoy the beautiful summer? (there’s a beautiful blue sky outside my window right now…) And if things are bad for a long time, if you believe in God, what does that say about him? Probably plenty of things, but I’m going to mention three:
1) Bad times don’t impact the existence of God
When tough times come, many people decide that God doesn’t exist because ‘why would he let these things happen?’ This is a completely understandable emotional response but it’s not actually as logical as it first seems. If Sunday is a good day or if Sunday is a bad day, neither the presence of good or bad impacts whether Sunday happened (or existed, you might say).
Conversely, and probably less frequently, bad times might lead someone to think that there actually is a God and he obviously hates us. Sure, you might be saying it somewhat jokingly, but behind every joke there’s an element of truth. So, you actually do think it, to an extent.
This thinking, which appears somewhat light and witty is actually insulting to a deity. You’re basically saying that you don’t believe in a deity until things start going wrong and then you expect them to make everything better for you straight away. What sort of egotistical and entitled person are you?
Sorry, was that too strong? But it’s true…
2) Bad times show the humanism of God
So humanism and Christianity usually aren’t friends but I don’t want to go too much into that right now (in part because I think the dichotomy is a bit simplistic…) but as a teacher I think the Church could consider the implications of pedagogy surrounding such theories… and that this would be beneficial…
When tough times come, there’s no escaping the lessons that life (or God) is trying to teach us, unless we bury our heads in the sand. Even then, if we’re going to be adults, we have to be responsible enough to take things on board.
God is very happy with us having personal involvement in our learning. He is absolutely 100% in support of experiential learning and gently prodding us with a question of “tell me how you feel?”
He doesn’t enjoy watching humanity suffer, but he allows it and welcomes us stepping back and saying: “This isn’t right. Is there hope anywhere?”
3) Bad times show the welcome of God
I think HNAC Alison would consider the people in Churches every week as those ‘in with God’ and herself ‘not in with God’ – as in, not welcome.
Again, understandable thinking, but not necessarily right. The people in Church every week are adhering to a ritualistic pattern of behaviour which may be motivated by a range of things.
One such possible motivation is that they have a genuine faith and a desire to learn more about God. But plenty of people ‘in Church’ are really just ‘nominal’ in their faith. They are no more in with God than the fictional, but very much atheistic, HNAC Alison.
To believe that they are ‘in’ is to create an exclusive club and God does not think along those lines. In Jesus’ parables he seemed rather disinterested in the spiritual elite who didn’t actually want to come to the party (both literally and metaphorically). He sent the invite out to everyone after that.
If you’re a person and you’re experiencing a bad time, it doesn’t matter who you are, God is speaking to you and offering you a welcome. It might seem like the very opposite to that, but it’s true.
It’s really a case of whether you want to take up the offer or not.
Yours in the welcoming,
Image Credit: Oprah magazine