i am currently reading “Disappointment with God” by Philip Yancy. it has been a while since i ready anything by Yancy but it is proving to be quite the incredible book. it is amazing to me how much perspective change change the human heart while the circumstances stay the same.
what’s also amazing to me is that one can know the goodness of God, know how much He loves and how He has amazing things coming but still experience such pain. you see knowing God’s love and goodness don’t take away the pain of life and circumstances, but it sure does comfort. it does bring peace. that still seems like a weird dichotomy. even as i experience it, it seems odd.
but anyway, in this book, Yancy’s goal is to not sugar coat or avoid the conversation that life is simply unfair. he boils down our often disappointment with God to three questions.
- is God unfair?
- is Good silent?
- is God hidden?
i can see in my life when i have asked those questions. i see where i still sometimes ask those questions. he does a stunningly well done job of walking through each one.
and then he said something that really gripped me. not because it is a new concept, but because i think it was what i needed to hear when i needed to hear it.
God holds back; He hides Himself; He weeps. Why? Because He desires what power can never win. He is a King who wants not subservience, but love. Thus, rather than mowing down Jerusalem, Rome and every other worldly power, He chose the slow hard way of Incarnation, love, and death. A conquest from within.
so often i have heard someone say, and many times have said something akin to, if God can do something about this, why isn’t He? if He’s all powerful, why won’t He change it? He must be mean.
when i think about that line of thought, it has made sense in my head so many times before. but as i see my perspective changing, it begins to unravel. i love how Ivan Karamazov calls the temptation of Jesus “the most stupendous miracle on earth: the miracle of restraint.”
so often i think we limit our perspective to what we can see and understand. we limit our understanding to our experience. we limit ourselves to our finite wisdom. all the while, we have a God who is beyond our understanding and wisdom and experience. not only does He have experience being God, but He has also experienced being man. His foolishness is wiser than our wisdom. He can see and understand everything simultaneously.
so why does it still seem so dismal sometimes…because He desires what power can never win…love. He desires love and power can never make someone love someone else. power can’t soften hearts. power doesn’t draw people in to a loving relationship.
Yancy makes a really interesting point in the book with regard to miracles and power. you see them throughout the Bible. seas being parted, dead being raised, thousands being fed, etc. but the interesting thing is how little of an impact that made in their lives. powerful movements of God didn’t sustain a vibrant relationship with God. powerful movements didn’t sustain people through seasons of grief and pain and loss.
relationship is what He wants. love is what He wants. yes He could come and move in power but in the end, it isn’t really what sustains our relationship with Him. if it is, i wonder how deep the relationship actually is.
but just because a relationship is present and healthy and we know the truth about it, doesn’t mean that pain doesn’t exist within it. pain unfortunately is a part of this world. one day we will be removed from it and placed in a new heaven and a new earth in the presence of this amazing God, but until then, He weeps with us. He is angry with us. He celebrates with us.
for He desires love.