Get Real with God Blog

No one disputes the fact that the world is a messed up place. Many of us are also in a world of pain. Some of it self-imposed, some of it, so it appears, random stuff. The question is whether the existence of the mess itself is reason enough to discard the very idea of God.

All of us, from time to time, have joined the skeptics in saying, “If God would only [fill in the blank], then people would have no reason to doubt His existence, power, or benevolence.” The blank is usually related to some display of spectacular power, an example of fairness written across the sky, or a special appearance by God, let’s say on the Oprah Winfrey show…

For example, if all the evil captors of the 200 plus Nigerian girls held in captivity were struck with an unexplainable stomach ailment and died within a short time of each other, allowing the girls to escape, people would believe in God, right? I mean, aren’t the girls Christians to begin with? Or if the Shroud of Turin were authenticated by Richard Dawkins, even Carl Sagan, from wherever he is, might believe, right?

Wishful thinking, this “What if…” exercise turns out to be. In history, just the opposite happened. Yes, believe it or not, according to the Old Testament narrative of the happenings of the people of Israel, at one time in history God made an unequivocal show of fairness – to the point of drawing up a contract with His people, painstakingly detailing what would happen to them if they kept the contract or vice-versa; and what happened at the end? Well, you know the story – the people chose to rebel against God anyway.

God also showed up in a visible way, with the original G.P.S. (God Positioning System) there for all to see – a pillar of cloud by day and a column of fire by night. He also spoke to Moses some 613 laws that the people were to follow and He gave them prophets and something called the Urim and Thummim, which was a nice little gadget only a few of the initiated were allowed to use when they needed a word from the Lord (was this some kind of a supercomputer with direct access to the mind of God?).

Crystal-clear guidance. Wow. But did that result in more faith? Quite the contrary. Writing about this, Philip Yancey says, “… clear guidance sucked away freedom, making every choice a matter of obedience rather than faith. And in forty years of wilderness wanderings, the Israelites flunked the obedience test so badly that God was forced to start over with a new generation.”  (Disappointment with God, p. 46).

This is fascinating, to say the least. It forces me to ask: Are those who cry out for visible, spectacular evidence on the sky merely looking for an excuse? What did God’s direct approach accomplish in the Old Testament? Again, I quote Philip Yancey, from the same book: “… God’s directness seemed to produce the very opposite of the desired effect. The Israelites responded not with worship and love, but with fear and open rebellion. God’s visible presence did nothing to improve lasting faith.” (pp. 47-48).

This all leads me to the message this Sunday, as we start studying the final song Habakkuk composed as he searched for answers as to why God was silent in the midst of so much evil in the world. We will learn that remembering the past only and imagining the future only will not satisfy us. Not that these things are bad. We can learn a lot from our past and we certainly can derive hope from imagining the future through the lens of Scripture. But the ultimate answer to our quest for meaning in the midst of our shared or individual messes can only be found in having faith in God in the present.

Hope you can join us this Sunday. You will also witness an amazing baptism celebration.

See you there!

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade