I'm especially excited because a co-worker let me borrow The Fantastic Four on DVD (featuring Dr. Victor Von Doom, yes that's his real name). Now I know those of you who have seen it are thinking that my excitement will be a short-lived as the box-office run of Electra, but that's neither here nor there. Enjoy.
You are Dr. Doom
|Blessed with smarts and power but burdened by vanity.|
Click here to take the Supervillain Personality Quiz
Yesterday I shared a passage of scripture with you in which Jesus told the religious Jews who were talking with him that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood or they would have no life within them. Now, this was a very confusing thing to say for them for a number of reasons, not least of which, drinking blood is strictly forbidden by Jewish law, the law that God gave his people. Nevertheless, Jesus was laying the groundwork for teaching them something that they would only come to understand much later.
In John 6:66 we read: As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew, and were not walking with Him anymore. Jesus said therefore to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?”
When my wife and lived in Indonesia she suffered a blood clot that landed her in the hospital for a little over a week. Ultimately, all ended up well, but we were shaken by this first great experience of our own frailty. Up until this time we had thought that God would protect us from this sort of medical disaster. Now that this “hedge of protection” we had imagine around ourselves was gone, we were shocked and more than a little scared.
On blood thinners for the months following, we became acutely aware of how dangerous basic activities like riding the mini-bus into town became. What if there were a wreck? What if she got cut and bled to death? Before, we would have calmed our minds with Jesus’ protection but now we were not so sure. We were having serious doubts about God’s presence in the midst of our struggle, and you had better not even bring up that “footprints in the sand” poem around us.
Over time, our questions and fears became the water and wind that wore away at the concrete wall of God’s protection in our minds, revealing a more nuanced, textured surface beneath. It wasn’t that God wasn’t there, he had been faithful to bring us the help we needed to deal with the crisis. But why hadn’t he prevented it in the first place.
We found ourselves having to answer Jesus question to the 12 disciples: Now that the going has gotten rough, and things didn’t turn out like you planned, “You do not want to go away too, do you?” This is a legitimate question because many people do fall away, lose their faith, leave the church, stop praying, stop trusting in God after they suffer a great loss they assumed God would protect them from.
Over time as we struggled to make sense of it all, we returned to God, to prayer, even to trust, but with a little less easiness, a little less bravado, a little less presumption. But the question still remains: “Are you going to leave me when things get hard? When you don’t understand? When you lose what you thought you couldn’t live without?”
Stanley Hauerwas, the sometimes controversial professor of theological ethics at Duke University once said: "We are willing to worship a God only if God makes us safe. Thus you get the silly question, How does a good God let bad things happen to good people?"
I disagree that the question is silly, but it certainly does reveal our assumption that about what we get out of the deal of believing in God: safety, certainty, clarity. And when those things are in short supply we tend to stop following.
So how do we answer that question that Jesus poses, that question that hovers before all our minds who are struggling with understanding how we could get where we are if a good God really loved us?
Here’s how Simon Peter answered Him: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy one of God.”
What it came down to for my wife and I, was just this: we have believed and come to know that Jesus and God are who they say they are even when our expectations about who they are, are disappointed. To whom shall we go? We came to accept, perhaps even grudgingly that worshiping God does not mean that we will always be safe. But that it does mean that we can trust that God will be as present in our suffering as he will be in our joy, as present in the dark, coarse bloodiness of the cross as the shining brilliance of paradise. May his presence illuminate your life today.