Big enough to deal with floods? With cancer? Big enough to deal with abuse – or addiction? Big enough to deal with child soldiers and genocide? With divorce and bereavement and childlessness and suicide and grief and loneliness and singleness and anarchy and democracy? Big enough to deal with Jimmy Saville? Big enough to deal with regret and shame and anger and sorrow and bitterness?
And how loving is our God? When He looks at us – at me and at you – does He care? Does it matter to Him if I miss my bus? If I cut my wrists? If I’m lonely or sad or lost or confused?
Sometimes these questions are just whispers. When life is going well and church is part of the rhythm of the week and we’re settled and comfortable and cosy and Christianity is a nice thing, like a cup of sweet tea or slippers after the commute. Then, they’re hardly there at all.
But when the light goes out or the brakes fail…when there’s a stranger at the door or the phone rings in the middle of the night…when life breaks apart or splits at the seams
That’s when we can’t ignore them. That’s when everything depends on the answers.
I’ve been reminded of this by an interview in the Sunday Times with Kate Saunders. She writes;
‘Once upon a time, I had a beautiful son; his name was Felix and he was 19 years old. He was handsome and charming and funny and I wish you could have known him. I loved him more than I have ever loved anyone or anything, on earth or heaven, but I couldn’t keep him. Early one morning, last July, my darling boy killed himself’.
What do you say to a mother in this position? If there are answers, they aren’t easy ones – and comfortable religion is of no use either. She continues;
‘‘I’ve had it with praying. I’ve had it with love and joy and resurrection and chocolate and bunnies. The Easter message is all about joy and joy doesn’t live here any more…If God exists, I’m not sure that I like him and I don’t think he likes me.…On Felix’s last night I prayed for him – and look at the reply I got… I’ve been a churchgoer all my life but since Felix died… it is a small step to thinking the whole thing is a pointless charade”
She ends with a question
“… so I ask: what can today’s church do for a formerly religious woman whom grief has turned into a selfish, atheistical witch? What’ve you got for me?”
Here’s the incredible witness of Rick Warren responding to his son’s suicide just last weekend.
But what would you say?