From Jim McGuiggan... POOR GOD


Poor God, the world’s too strong for him; our sins are too deeply ingrained. He’d like to make a difference—truly he would—but he’s helpless. What, with our freewill and the complex inter-dependence of human lives, he has come to a gunfight with a feather duster.

A lot of people in ancient Israel thought like that. God had some power, of course, but he simply wasn’t up to the job he had taken on—that is, to be Israel’s God and Savior. Now and then he was able to deliver them from trouble but more often than not, the gods of the Philistines, Syrians or the Assyrians, or whoever, had the beating of him because he just wasn’t strong enough. What could Israel do? Sure they had no alternative but to make alliances with the strong nations, worship their gods and sideline Yahweh. You’ll remember that Ahaz believed that the gods of the Syrians were serving them well so he called on them. 2 Kings 16:10-13 and 2 Chronicles 28:23.

When we remember that the nation was constantly defying him it’s no surprise that the prophets sometimes have him expressing his frustration (read the book of Hosea). Add to that his sense of helplessness and it’s no surprise that some thought he walked off the job in a sulk and pouting [see Jeremiah 33:23-24 and elsewhere].

But there were always men and women in the nation, prophetic and wise, who knew God better than that. Now and then they’d speak of God’s strange way of working (compare Isaiah 28:21), carrying out his purposes in ways that make no sense to the worldly wise. For example he is going to attack Jerusalem (calling it “Ariel”—“a hearth,” around a sacrificial area, strewn with the proofs of sacrifice)—Isaiah 29:1-3. He will do again what David did in earlier days—attack Jerusalem in order to put his name there. The prophet understood the meaning of the vision and didn’t construe it as divine vindictiveness but as divine earnestness as he went about the redemption of the soul of a nation.

When we oppose the world and attempt to set the prisoners free we’re not making a futile gesture and much less are we appealing for pity from a world that enslaves and crushes. We align ourselves with God and offer ourselves as the instruments of God in God’s world in light of God’s promise in and as and through Jesus. That can’t be a blunder and it can’t be an act of blind stupidity no matter how things look.

How sweet and overly pious all that can sound to some “realists” who insist that “the facts” are against us and that we’re ignoring the realities of life and the suffering of millions. But prophetic souls didn’t stand unharmed at a distance shouting explanations at the frightened protesting people in the besieged city. These faithful men and women lived with and shared the hurts and losses and fears with the rest of the nation so their speech wasn’t the speech of the unhurt; it was the speech of those with vision that while acknowledging the reality of hurt and loss put them in their place under the redemptive sovereignty of an earnest God who will bring the human story to a glorious conclusion saturated with joy and peace and adventure while filled with God-imitating righteousness.

There is more than one way of seeing things and before life is a way of doing things it is a way of seeing things.

Don’t mistake God for some other force or source and don’t mistake his incredibly complex holy purpose for some difficult newspaper crossword puzzle you can work out if you have an hour or two. There are those who because they have seen more of it than the rest of us can grasp, stand in gobsmacked awe at the vision of the immensity and complexity of the universe—from photons to constellations—and there are those who have seen glimpses of God’s majesty who stand sometimes in speechless worship of the God who has created this vast theater of his visible operation and pleasure.

         We're amazed at it all and so we should be! A psalmist said, "When I consider the heavens the work of your fingers, I'm astonished that you'd bother yourself with us humans." But it's no big thing to God though he's very pleased with what he's made. See Isaiah
 40all of it.

          D'you remember the woman who told us about the vision she had of God, this inexpressibly glorious visitor who stood before her, and left her speechless? She finally noticed something in his hand, a tiny nut looking thing, and she asked him what it was. He said, "All created thngs."

         Astonishing? I should say! But let me tell you what I think is even more astonishing. Listen to this.

In the days of Claverhouse she was standing beside her husband as they were being threatened but wouldn't back away from truth they held. A callous religious brute and bigot raised the gun and blew her husband’s head to pieces. The jeering murderer wanted to know, “And what do you think of your good man now?” As she gathered up the pieces of his head and brains in her apron she quietly but defiantly said, “I always thought much of him but I think even more of him now.” Now that's astonishing! How can God create that kind of faithno coercion, a free, glad-hearted faith in two little humans.

Let’s be careful that we don’t become so enamored with Brian Greene’s string theory of ultimate reality that we think we have found God’s personal dwelling place in some dimension under the quarks—where Jesus presently dwells with the Holy Father. For the present it's enough to say he joyfully and contentedly dwells in the hearts and lives of the faithful, contrite and gallant who are more taken by the spellbinding Holy Father himself than by his glorious creation.

       In our eagerness to be scientifically up to date we’re not to buy into some “string pantheism”. If the “string” is there as the ultimate fabric of creation reality you can be sure God doesn’t live in it and even more sure that he isn’t made of string.

©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.

Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, theabidingword.com.