‘If only we could see…’

As we were giving voice to the lyrics addressed to the Lord –

If we could see how much you’re worth,
Your power, your might, your endless love,
Then, surely, we would never cease to praise’

I was reminded of the bizarre reaction of the man in a car park who had twitched his fingers near my face like tiger’s claws attacking a potential lunch, shouting: ‘Poufter! It’s that hat.’ Because of the warm weather I was wearing my white ‘Panama’ – my only piece of headgear that would allow my scalp to breathe without sweating in the warm sunshine. Now, as we sang, I thought ‘if only he could see how non-effeminate I have been all my life, and that I am no dandy, he would have congratulated me on my appropriate choice of head covering.’ But maybe my ‘bakery trilby’ had triggered the memory of some bad experience he had had with a guy similarly attired.

And we can react against the Lord in life’s adverse circumstances, thinking that he is indifferent or even unjust. But ‘if only we could see how deeply he really does care.’ Indeed, the Bible gives us many instances in which godly individuals continued to bless the Lord in the midst of perturbing events, even though God seemed unconcerned.

[] ‘Lazarus of Bethany was ill, so his sisters sent a message across the Jordan to Jesus. Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So he stayed two days longer in the place where he was(John 10:40  11:6). When he eventually reached Bethany, Lazarus had been dead and buried for four days! The grieving sisters could have been tempted to doubt that Jesus really cared. Instead, they chose to ‘see… his endless love’, and realised that, even had he rushed to them, he would still have arrived too late to prevent their brother’s demise. But Jesus, sensitive to his Father’s guidance, came late enough to demonstrate the most astounding ‘healing’ of his entire ministry. And in preparation for that he had quietly instilled faith into each of the grieving sisters (see John 11:1-57).

[] When that non-Jewish mother of a demonised girl appealed to Jesus for her deliverance, he appeared to ignore her, and even proceeded to talk about her in her presence. How off-putting was such bad manners!  Yet it provoked her to a confession of very measured faith, delightfully reflecting back to the Master his metaphor – about privileges even to domestic pets in the dining room – that greatly impressed Jesus! (Matthew 15:21-28).

[] When God told Ezekiel to cook his food publicly over an open fire of human excreta, as a priest he recoiled in horror; so God relented – and let him substitute animal dung! As a prophet he simply had to shock his Jewish audience till they realised the enormity of their wickedness that had landed them in exile in a pagan land. (Ezekiel 4:12-17).

[] Scripture testifies that God ‘gives songs in the night.’ Jonah sang them in Whale-Belly Chapel (Jonah 2:1-10)), as did Paul and Silas in the jail in Philippi – with spectacular results (Acts 16:8-40). And Job worshipped God even when inflicted unexpectedly with an outbreak of itching, head-to-toe, suppurating boils, instant bankruptcy and the sudden fatal disaster to his entire large family at a special birthday celebration (Job 1:1  2:10).

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