“Hey, you really need this, come on you know you do!” exclaimed the stall vendor to our son and myself as we walked through an indoor market whilst on holiday a couple of years ago. Clearly he could tell we were tourists and so maybe an easier target than the locals. Ever had someone trying to convince you that a certain product or investment is going to be awesome and yet you have a sense that it is too good to be true?
How about things in the Bible? Too good to be true? (well that is, leaving out the parts that perhaps at face value do not seem good to us for different reasons).
As this pandemic continues and there are lockdowns of varying degrees in different countries, I remain grateful for all those working in health care for instance. Also I think it is good for us to think about how we can be a support to others. Who could you reach out to in the coming days? Yet also I want to ask, does the idea that God is concerned have any bearing on reality right now?
Take these words for example from the New Testament,
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28, New International Version
Such words might trigger all kinds of questions. For instance what does it mean to love God or to be called according to his purpose?
Yet also we have within this verse, the idea of God at work ‘in all things’.
I am not suggesting by referring to ‘in all things’ that this pandemic has been sent by God. I do not think that is a helpful idea to add into the mix of various conspiracy theories that are already doing the rounds. Instead part of the hope of the message of the Gospel of Christ is that God is not detached and indifferent to our lives. As often is proclaimed at Christmas time from Isaiah 7, he is ‘Immanuel – God with us’. The whole story of Advent shows that God did not stay distant but through Christ fully entered the human experience. This included his going through tough times – a refugee very early on in his life, misunderstood and opposed by others during his adult ministry and ultimately crucified for humanity. All these things help remind me, God is not indifferent.
So amidst all the challenges of these months, are we open to God at all? What might it look like to see God at ‘work’ right in the midst of the things we are walking through?
I realise I have posed a number of questions without really giving answers. Partly I did this so the blog is not too long but also to encourage us all to take some time to reflect.
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