flicking sparrows

22 01 2010

everything gone wrong

Sometimes everything goes wrong. The foundations on which our lives are built are suddenly shaken, the solid, unshakeable and immovable things of life that help us navigate our way through are gone. Suddenly we realise we are not walking on solid ground, but on a thin tectonic plate floating slowly around a ball of liquid. Spinning at hundreds of miles an hour. And we cling to its surface using the power of a theory called gravity that no-one understands, without which we would aimlessly drift into space, wherever that is…

When things go wrong, we can end up comparing ourselves with others. Is my ‘everything gone wrong’ worse than yours? Whether it is the loss of a friend, a parent or a family member through illness, accident or argument; whether it is losing everything you have in an earthquake such; whether it is struggling every day with the black dog of depression and despair and despondency and self-loathing; whether its having no thumbs due to a bizarre mix-up with cough medicine and a lathe (yes, I’ve seen Glee…)… any of things could count as ‘everything going wrong’.

memorial to steven moore

Some ‘everything gone wrongs’ are worse than others, undoubtedly, at face-value. The situation in Haiti or other places worldwide is truly horrendous. In practical, tick-list terms, it is worse than, say, than me losing my mother to cancer at the age of 11, or innocent bystander 24 year-old Steven Moore being killed by a car that was being chased by a police van just down the road from where I live in Carshalton. I came across the spontaneous memorial to him the other day. It made me very sad. We know that one person who dies is not the same as 200,000 dying in one go. We know that one person with severe depression is cannot be compared with millions with no homes or water or medicine and all suffering terrible family loss. But… but…

Each of us carry our own person tragedies. Each of us carry our own personal trials. And for us, in our worlds, they are great. They are the foundations being shaken; they are certainty being curtly butted out the way by uncertainty like when I was once rugby tackled by someone twice my size; they are what matters to us, now. And they hurt. Situations like Haiti can help us put things in perspective, and that is good. But they don’t stop us feeling our own pain.

Part of me feels the need to somehow defend God. To answer the questions about a loving God and an earthquake or a premature death.  There are plenty of inane things I could say. Plenty of text-book answers. Plenty of philosophers of religion I could quote. Suffice to say, suffering is a real challenge to personal faith in a personal God for so many, me included.

It is also a reason many people believe in that same God.

What comes to me are Jesus words about flicking sparrows. Or at least, Rick McKinley’s words about Jesus words. Jesus said that just because he knows that a sparrow falls to the ground, that doesn’t mean he flicked it from the tree. But it is up to us to help the sparrow back up again.

watching for the celestial index finger

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2 responses

22 01 2010
c2drl

Kevin

Thank yhou for sharing this and remin ding uo that those who ‘do religion’ professionally are n ot exempt from the struggles many of the rest of us have.

We know that God is all powerful. We know intgellectually that God doesn’t cause these things. Experientially we discover that it is often, but not always, through these things that good happens, maybe change, maybe growth. My own experience is that much more growth has happened in my life as a fresult of occasional suffering and p;ain than from all the happiness I have enjoyed.

It doesn’t stop us from asking “why did he let this happen in this situation?” Why has this person or community or family been selected for suffering which, thankfully is not the norm? Why didn’t God intervene to stop it? How doers it all fit together.

There is always a danger of trite words and I want to avoid that. As I have reflected through my life I have come to the conclusion that there are two things that have affected our faith post reformation that we need to reconsider.

1. We have developed an personal faith to the exclusion or at least minimisation of a corporate community faith. We expect God to make it better for us. Our whole culture is ab out fixing things, stopping old people dying, getting rid of unwanted problems, papering over cracks and we expect God to do the same. Well sometimes he does and sometimes he does and sometimes he doesn’t. We can’t prescribe it.

2. We hvae moved away fro the long term view of ressurection and God making things new. Of eternal life and the triumph of God over evil. Evedrything is now focussed on today. I have come to see that in the overall scheme of thiongs our life now is a very small part and we need to remember God’s focus of eternity.

This doesn’t take away the pain, it isn’t meant to. It does give us (remind us of) hope and that is I think what it is about. Easier words than experiencing it, but perhaps that is part of the walk with God. God is undoubtedly there in the pain and is crying with us, he isn’t a God only for the good times.

If that all sounds trite, i’m sorry, just forget I said it. If it helps, then than God.

25 01 2010
Kevin

That’s not trite – it’s just very hard to take, that’s all. We are so focused on now that even tho I talk about resurrection and transformation and I (mostly) truly believe it, there’s times when a bit of ‘now’ instead of ‘not yet’ would be good!

But the resurrected world will happen, there is a world and a story beyond our personal lives and experiences. It’s bigger than the sparrows.

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