Everybody agrees God is a loving God. That’s a distinctive teaching of the Bible; not Hinduism or Buddhism or Taoism, and certainly not Islam. In the face of ancient people who had been taught their gods were petty, indifferent, impersonal or always in a rage, God has made scriptural promises like, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”
But where did we get this lame idea that God is a magical doctor with a pill for every pain, and a prescription for every problem? I happened to visit my doctor (seriously) for a check up today. He loves Jesus so we always wind up talking about the Father and the faith. He mentioned the Christian priest from India who was crucified by ISIS on Good Friday. Then a couple of days later, the Taliban bombed a church in Pakistan during Easter worship: eighty Christians died instantly. What about that?
- Here in America, we run to God with the slightest inconvenience, at the first hint of a dark clouds on some distant horizon.
- We justify this by insisting God wants us to talk to Him about everything. He loves me so much that he will give me a parking place at a crowded mall if I pray, right?
- The principle here is not that God cares more about martyred saints in distant lands than he does about the minor issues of life in America.
- What’s wrong here is that I care more about my little irritations and emotional mood swings than I do about the life and death catastrophes facing other believers in very real places at this moment. Are they family or not?
- Would I ever be willing to suffer profoundly for the eternal good of others and the advance of the Kingdom of Light?
- The truth is that my instant-answers god-therapist rushing in to fix every problem if I complain in faith is a creature of fantasy, not the God of the Bible.
“Hey God, my boss refuses to give me a raise, and he’s warned me not to talk about my faith at the office! This is persecution! What are YOU going to do about it?” No wonder God is often silent. Our self-indulgence doesn’t deserve a reply from the God of Creation.
It’s so embarrassing, but so true: the American religion really is therapeutic, moralistic deism. That is, if I believe that God is real and if I try to be nice, he will protect me from all pain and suffering, and provide an instant miracle-cure for any discomfort that might befall me! I don’t need God to be good and certainly not to be happy. I just need him in a pinch. He is my eternal EASY button.
- It’s not just them, it’s me too.
- Sometimes I find myself whining about some human slight and praying for a pill.
I could remind myself, “It could be worse.” But faith promises, “It will be better. Just endure for a while.” Small souls compare their suffering to the plight of others, but large souls have a different perspective. After years of arrest and beatings, stoning, shipwrecks, snake bites, and other close calls, Paul had this to say: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)
Faith is truth forged by fire in human hearts. Courage is a motivating force , but faith is made of sterner stuff. Faith makes the soul bullet proof.
Where was God when they nailed that unshaken Indian saint to a cross on Friday? The same place he was when they nailed His only begotten Son to a cross on Good Friday. He was ruling the heavens; shaping history to enlarge His Kingdom and save the whole world. That’s the best thing a loving Father could do. It will be better. So I have resolved to endure for a while.
And lift up the Cross!