God is in this?
I was listening to a radio preacher the other night and he was talking about adversity. He kept saying that “God is in it”. He pointed out, quite rightly, that the God who made the universe is in control. If we’re going through stuiff it’s not because God was somehow carrying too much one day and a few nasty items slipped out of His arms and landed on us. Everything happens because it’s meant to happen, according to some larger and grander scheme that we are unaware of. The end conclusion that the preacher reached annoyed me though: at the end of the day we didnt ought to question of kick against things, merely suck it in and live with it. We shouldnt ask the tough questions, merely write it all off as being “part of the plan” and “a mystery to mere humans”. I didnt like that one bit.
I was raised to ask questions and I did a science / engineering degree that only intensified my quest. When things hurt I want to know why! I want some thread of hope to hang on to through the storm. I personally believe that God wont fall off His throne if we get angry and ask questions. He’s way bigger than we give Him credit for.
The other thing that the radio preacher said that simply got under my skin was that “God is in (whatever it was)”. Your car crashes, and yes, God was in that. You lose your job, and once again God was in that. The phraseology smacks of pantheism to me – the belief that God is intrinsically in the created order. The movie “Stigmata” takes that view with it’s famous revelation (according to the story, from Jesus), “The kingdom of God is in your heart. Break open a stone and I am there. Split a piece of wood and I am there”. There’s just something about saying “God is in _________” that gets under my skin and irritates me.
I understood waht the preacher was saying though, that whatever our circumstances, God is involved. Jesus promised, “Never will I leave you or forsake you”. The thought that God is in a situation doesnt stir me at all – it sounds WAY too passive – to say that God’s involved in things is much more exciting. I think it sits better with scriptures that say “all things work to the good of those that love God and are called according to His purposes”. Active involvement means that Jesus is not asleep in the prow of my boat as I hit the storm – He’s awake and imminently about to command the winds to be still. Active involvement means that Jesus has appeared in the upper room and is speaking “fear not” to my fear-ridden heart. Active involvement means that Jesus is not dead to me, that I’m not alone, and that the promise of aid is not empty.
Active involvement is what I want. I dont want God in my circumstanmces as an observer: if I am hurting I want Him involved and hurting right alongside me. I want the reality of a High Priest who understands because He is right now, going through things with me and has been through far worse already. That makes His promises real and powerful to my life.