Archives for posts with tag: Get Real WIth God

Get Real with God Blog
Finding a modern-day Job… The task is a lot easier than we think as this world, living under a cloud of corruption, abounds with examples of tragic events and lives that no longer want to be. Never mind for now where we get the notion that life OUGHT to be fair. That discussion will have to wait.

Now we must listen to one such story of a man by the name of Douglas. You can find a more detailed account of this man’s life in Philip Yancey’s book Disappointment with God.  First, Douglas’ wife discovers a lump in her breast. The breast had to be removed. Then, the cancer spread to her lungs. One day, in the midst of the crisis, Douglas was driving his wife and twelve year old daughter when a drunk driver crossed the median and hit their car in a head-on collision. Douglas was severely hit on his head and sustained injuries that caused not only constant headaches but also the loss of vision in one eye. His life would never be the same again.

When Philip Yancey, the author, had a chance to meet with Douglas over breakfast, a surprising thing happened. He asked him, “Could you tell me about your own disappointment with God?” After some silent, came what a call a moment of brilliance, “To tell you the truth, Philip.” Douglas said, “I didn’t feel any disappointment with God.” Philip couldn’t believe what he had just heard. Was this another “Turn your scar into stars!” television moment? He wanted to know more.

Douglas explained: “The reason is this. I learned, first through my wife’s illness and then especially through the accident, not to confuse God with life. I’m no stoic. I am as upset about what happened to me as anyone could be. I feel free to curse the unfairness of life and to vent all my grief and anger. But I believe God feels the same way about that accident – grieved and angry. I don’t blame him for what happened.”

I believe that this story reminds us that those who have suffered the most have the most to tell us about suffering. As we look at the closing part of Habakkuk’s declaration of trust in God through turmoil, we will that this caution of separating God from the events surrounding us will be huge in helping us move past the pain and into the rejoicing that Habakkuk, James, Paul, Peter, and Jesus Himself talked about.

And the way we will find peace in the midst of our agonies is by learning to trust the character of God – that He is good and just and will intervene in His time. The pattern of the three days of Easter week – tragedy, darkness and triumph – representing Jesus’ death, the time He was “hidden” in the tomb, and His ultimate resurrection from the dead. This pattern will one day be enacted in a cosmic scale when God will bring His justice to prevail upon the whole universe.

Until then, we toil and suffer, just like the rest, and if we are blessed, we learn to rejoice, like Habakkuk did at the end of his book:

“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” (Habakkuk 3:17-18).”

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

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

Get Real with God Blog

I once heard the story of a venerated Buddhist monk from South Korea who was brought to a prestigious American university to dispense his wisdom to a couple of thousands of students and faculty who had packed an auditorium to hear him. They brought the old sage to the stage and all they could hear was… silence. For forty five minutes he sat there in stone silence and finally, upon the insistence of some of his handlers, and as the crowd grew restless, he managed to say barely in a whisper, “Teach me. I know nothing.”

The book of Habakkuk starts with a bang. The prophet displays his verbosity and displeasure at God for not taking care of business. He complains that God sees the evil that is being committed in the land and instead of acting to swiftly punish the bad guys and vindicate the good ones, God just sits there, either unwilling to act, or worse yet, impotent.

But as chapter two starts, to our utter surprise, we find the prophet, like the old sage from South Korea, suddenly making a vow of silence and waiting quietly until he hears from God.

“I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.” (Habakkuk 2:1). And so he does. Instead of strong words, intent listening; instead of questions, pause; instead of strife, rest. Take notice: In the midst of his most agonizing wrestling with God, the prophet takes time to rest so he can hear from God.

What a foreign concept to us who live in the age of immediacy; the times of fast delivery and quick sound bites. The prophet is teaching us that after a stormy confrontation, nothing like focused attention to hear God speak to us. You’ve laid out your case, you’ve bared your soul, now shut up and listen in silence. That seems to be the message of this brief introduction.

My, oh my… How much more sound would living be if we followed this advice. The Sons of Korah, who wrote songs to be used for worship at the temple, said, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10).

We are familiar with the first part of this verse, but we often forget the second part: We can be still because we know that God will eventually establish His perfect will upon the earth. That is the missionary God coming across in an ancient song.

As we listen to Habakkuk in chapter two, we learn that yes the enemy is fierce and seemingly unbeatable. We learn that it may be a while until the sunshine will usher in the time of perfect harmony and perfect justice in the universe. But we also learn that while the wheels crank, we might as well not be the squeaky joint in the contraption.

The prophet says that though the night seems long, we must keep our watch ever so diligently. And protect our integrity. That is how I take the little phrase, “The righteous shall live by his faithfulness,” one of the most-often quoted phrases quoted in the New Testament. In other words: Act I: Protest. Act II: Be quiet and wait; Act III: Keep the faith.

“Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:4-5).

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade