We have been thinking about where God might be when things don’t seem to make much sense.
Nothing could have brought this home this week like sitting in hospital with Trevor and David Parry and Paul Manley while a kind, gracious medical registrar explained the damage caused to Liz’s brain by a bang to the head at home. To learn that the damage was catastrophic and nothing could be done medically for Liz was for us all the epitome of awe-ful.
Yet, as we supported one another and prayed together, the God of all comfort was there.
Later, I was driving slowly along the Cottesloe beachfront: the day clear and warm, the beach white and water smooth, with gentle lapping waves and hues of blue that defy description. Stunning beauty and creative glory. And God was there too, big and authoring, unfussed and majestic.
Later that day I was chairing a board meeting of YouthCARE, the body responsible for the 381 chaplains in state government schools. The discussion was strategic and tactical, passionate and respectful, filled with integrity and intelligence. Above all it was yearning for the wellbeing of the young people of this state.
And God was there, in these wonderful bruised reeds, giving of themselves that God’s Kingdom would come and remain in our schools.
The next morning I received a phone call, early, from my youngest daughter. “How are you Dad?” she asked, with a sincerity that is unique to her. And that was enough – enough words to carry the power of love one for the other, a daughter to her Dad. And God was there, the God who weeps for his friends and embraces the lost and embattled.
In his book When God’s Ways Make No Sense, Larry Crabb talks about two types of longing in our quest to understand. The consolable longing he defines as, “… a longing to persevere through every good time or bad with an undiminshed, growing capacity and desire to love both God and others.”
But there is another type of longing that is inconsolable, that is for “… everything to be as it should be in a loving, holy, sovereign God’s universe.” And so this life leaves us groaning and grieving inwardly with unsatisfied desire as we wait longingly, even eagerly, for the perfect to come in the new creation. C. S. Lewis reflected that if you can imagine a reality that is not present in your experience now, it indicates that what you can imagine does exist but somewhere else outside your present experience. Our consolable longing is a call to faithfully endure all that is wrong in ourselves and the world until all is made right.
Larry Crabb ponders, “Is this the longing Jesus had in mind when He promised to answer prayer?”
P.S. Liz Parry died peacefully in Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital at about 10:30am on Thursday 28th November 2019. Prayers for the family during this time would be appreciated.