Ever been in a particularly rotten situation and someone (well-meaning), takes an emotional catapult and ‘flings’ a Bible verse at you?
“I’m so fed up about it all…”
“Well…the Bible says that if you delight yourself in the Lord, He will give you the desires of your heart.”
“Someone I love has cancer…they may die”.
” You should look at Jeremiah 29:11, it says, ‘I know the plans I have for you…”
Don’t get me wrong – I love the Bible, but using verses flippantly and out-of-context (to me, at least), sends a message, ‘I don’t want to hear about your woes, here’s a sticking plaster, to cover up that great, big nasty, oozing wound…’
I’ve been thinking about this in the past few weeks, as two people I know are facing truly horrendous circumstances. The stories aren’t mine to share, but ‘sticking plaster’ solutions simply don’t cut it. These situations have made me question what’s going on with my world, with God’s world; two God-fearing people, both looking into an abyss of pain and mental anguish.
Sure, I can pray for comfort, I can pray for physical and emotional healing…but lately, that’s not felt like enough.
Where is God in all of this? Can He not hear? Has He just walked away? Why would He allow us to pray, with such hope and expectation and then stand by, as the worst (seemingly) happens? What is going on with this, mad, insane, crazy world, stuffed with death and suffering?
In a way though, I realised that I have been guilty of (mentally) ‘flinging’ Bible verses – not to the people in question – but back to God, in my prayers for them, and saying, ‘But you said in Jeremiah 29:11….‘
And it’s almost as though God responded with, ‘Did I? Is that what I said? Have you even read the whole thing recently?’
And so this morning, thanks to a lovely devotional I’m reading, She Reads Truth, I stumbled across 1 Corinthians 15, which is all about death.
I wasn’t even looking for it (it was today’s set reading), but there was so much juicy goodness in the whole chapter, that it (in part) addressed some of the big questions I’ve been asking.
Paul’s tone in this chapter sounds a bit shouty (to me at least) but I think I see what he’s getting at; (paraphrased by me);
“Do you REALLY think I’d go through all this pain, all this heartache, all this sheer, utter nonsense, if I didn’t believe right down to the depths of my boots (sandals?) that it was TRUE? Like, seriously people…listen to what you’re saying and thinking. Christ is REAL, he died, he came back to life…and He LIVES.”
He compares that to life and our few years of shuffling on this mortal soil…. and I think he’s saying that if we look at situations in our lives and say ‘It’ll NEVER change’, then our perspective is very, very wrong.
God’s perspective, on the other hand, is very different. God sees things as they will be, not as they are. And in a way, that’s echoed in most things in nature; from a baby to a chrysalis, what a thing looks like in the beginning, is rarely what it looks like in the end.
Still with me?
What do I get from this? Loads of things, but principally, flinging half Bible verses at people (and at God) is at best, a mis-use of what the Bible is for. But when read, in their whole context…it starts to take shape and helps me understand God’s perspective on life; that just because a thing looks ungrown/dead/dying/decaying, God does still see what the end result will be.
Of course, if you’re about to lose someone you love desperately, that’s not a verse or a thought you want to have flung at you.
But in context, it can be gobsmackingly amazing, to know, that our perspective (with all its heartache and pain) is (at best) only a very faulty reflection of God’s.
I don’t have any answers and I definitely still hate ‘flinging’, but if it’s true (and he should know), then Paul says that ‘one day…one day, when we see Him face to face, it will ALL be worth it’.
From my perspective, I struggle to understand a glory that is SO huge, so all-incredible, that it could make up for every last bit of suffering, but if it’s true (which I really believe it is), then, wow.