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Saturday, 24 June 2017

Day 24: God Has Spoken to Us

Art by www,wallandheart.com
God has spoken to us. 
Hebrews 1:2 

These are a series of questions I scribbled in my notebook in the middle of a teary church service, in the middle of a teary weekend, in the middle of a teary few months:

Wouldn't it be better if I wasn't walking wounded; if I wasn't limping; if my vision wasn't blurry? 
Wouldn't it be better if I was less of a smouldering wick, and more of a blazing torch; if I was an unshakeable oak, rather than a broken, bound up reed? 
Wouldn't I love better if my heart wasn't aching? 
Couldn't I go further if my legs were less tired? 
Couldn't I climb higher if my feet didn't slip; if I wasn't weeping by the wayside? 

Over the past weeks and months, the darkness has not lifted. Day by day I've felt the weight of it heavier, its destructiveness feral, its influence all consuming. And God's ways have seemed increasingly mysterious. When the fog of my mind clears enough to remember a time before I was 'brought low', I remember a brighter, more generous, more outwardly focussed, version of myself. And I think 'surely it would be better for me to be that version of me!' From the darkness I have cried out to God, desperate for him to take the pain away, perplexed as to why I have the temperament, biology, and life circumstances that have led me to a place that feels so completely overwhelming and broken.

It's so tempting in these times to focus on all the unanswered questions and to feel first perplexed, and then when an answer doesn't come, to give way to despair.

And this is true of my questions about depression, as well as my questions about other painful experiences in my life and the lives of others. At times, amid all of the hurt it is easy to desperately wonder why God is silent.

But God is not silent.

God has spoken to us.

Yes, there are unanswered questions. But "God has spoken to us" in and of itself is such good news. These five words tell us that God has made himself known. He has revealed himself, declared himself, shown himself... and He's been clear. He is not a puzzle that the cleverest people solve, or a reward that the godliest people earn: no! He is a person who has told us who he is! The unedited version of this verse reads:

"God has spoken to us by His Son." (Hebrews 1:2) 

This is even better news! Because through His Son God has said, "I am with you,", "I am given for you,", "I am on your side,", "I forgive you completely,", "I am not ashamed of you,"...  amid the things God has not said there are all the things that He has said- and He's said them to us, and for us.

Looking back on this 'five words' series (still not done yet!), I feel blown away by all that God's said to me through such little nuggets of Scripture, and challenged that despite all of this, I've often judged God by what he hasn't said to me, far more than by what he has. I've created a version of God that's an amalgamation of what the Bible says, and what my mind and my circumstances and my heart say. Unsurprisingly, the God created in my own image is not that great!

There's a verse in Deuteronomy that says: "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the revealed things belong to us and to our children..." Deuteronomy 29:29 

The revealed things are a gift to us- they're something for us to cling to, to take refuge in, and in our darkness and weakness and fragility to lean all of our weight upon. And the revealed things liberate us to trust God with the things that he keeps secret.

Although there are some things God has not said, He has not left us in obscurity. He has given us words and promises that are ours; they belong to us. He gives us the words we need most to sustain us, to comfort us, to strengthen us, to bring life to us. He has said: "I have seen your tears," He has said, "I will give you..." He has said, "God meant it for good" and  "Christ died for your sins" and "It is God who justifies" and "surely I am coming soon" and "I will be with you..." and much, much more. (Yep, cheeky little plug for some other posts...)

As I write this, I am on sick leave for depression. I hope that makes clear that this "take God at his word" idea doesn't come from a place of triteness. Every day I am praying that the LORD will be in my healing. I am praying that I will be able to live free of depression's burden. And I am also praying that every single day, whatever happens, I will cling to what He has said more tightly than I cling to those things He has not yet revealed.

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." 2 Corinthians 4:8-9


Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan His work in vain, 

God is his own interpreter,
And He will make it plain. 


"If you have seen me, you have seen the Father." 

Jesus, John 14:9 

Note: My comments on Deuteronomy 29:29 were significantly influenced by what Jon Bloom writes in his excellent book Don't Follow Your Heart (Published by Desiring God).

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