We live in a world of terrorist attacks, injustice, deceit, cancer, mental illness and death. Why doesn’t God do something about it? Many conclude that either he isn’t powerful enough to intervene, or he isn’t loving enough to care.
That was the conclusion that people came to as they witnessed the most evil event in human history. It’s striking that as we read through the accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion in the Bible, it seems as if God is doing nothing. Those standing around the cross mocked Jesus because it seemed God didn’t love him enough to come to his rescue: ‘He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him’.
Yet although it seems at first glance that God isn’t doing anything, every detail of what’s happening is a fulfilment of his plan. In a series of seemingly random events, Jesus is offered wine mixed with myrrh to try and dull the pain, the soldiers who are crucifying him have the bright idea of casting lots for his clothes, and he’s crucified between two robbers. As these things happen, God doesn’t even get mentioned. It seems that he isn’t paying attention. And yet each of these acts is the fulfilment of centuries-old prophecies about how the Messiah would die. Although they have no thought of God, and their motives are very different from his, evil men are merely fulfilling his plan.
So just because it seems that God isn’t at work in your life, don’t conclude that he is absent. God’s activity is often hidden, but he is still very much at work.
If you’re not yet a believer in Jesus Christ, he is bringing events into your life to show you your need of him. In your disappointments, pain and bereavement he is showing you the emptiness and futility of living only for this life.
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, then God’s great goal for you in all that happens is to make you more like Jesus. Often, the process is not one we would choose. Just like refining gold, applying heat to something so precious seems destructive. But just as the goldsmith heats the gold until he can see his face in it, so God applies the heat to our lives that we might reflect him more clearly to a lost and dying world.
Published in Stranraer and Wigtownshire Free Press, 17th August 2017