Posted by: karanoel | June 14, 2011

Parking places and suffering

And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,  which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. Ephesians 1:22-23

A while back someone asked me what kind of God would care about something so insignificant as helping someone find a parking place on a crowded day at the beach or a lost wallet at the mall, while neglecting the cries of a suffering world. It was a good question. There are oodles of other unbelievers – and believers – with the same doubts, who question God’s character or refrain from asking him any questions they deem unworthy of his time and efforts.

I didn’t have an immediate answer to his question, but found an understanding floating through my head later that day. My mom would give her life for me. There is no question in my mind. She has never had the opportunity to prove this, so how can I be so certain? Because she has demonstrated her care for me. Sometimes in small ways, like speaking kind words or helping me find something I’ve lost. Sometimes in bigger ways, like foregoing sleep to talk me through a hard place or loving me when I am as approachable as a man-of-war. Many of my crises have been pretty unimportant in the big scheme of things, but they have mattered to her because of her concern and compassion for me. I have become so assured of her love that I can stand confidently in it and can trust her with all I am for much greater things.

If we care for our children in these ways, how much more does our Father, who has a far truer love than we do – a perfect love, in fact – care for us? While a lost wallet is not a life or death problem, it’s an opportunity to demonstrate his care for the kids he loves. And while a parking space might not particularly matter to him, we do. As we see his provision in small ways and come to know his kindness, we learn to trust him in big ways and are able to act with authority on the things he’s promised. We also begin to realize that he did lay down his life for us in the ultimate act of love, and can understand more intimately what it took to do such a thing for us ragamuffins who couldn’t yet begin to grasp the significance.

The breakdown often comes with how this translates in our lives. Maybe we don’t learn to trust him for small things and are then unable to look to him for bigger things. Maybe, instead of asking him to meet our needs, we decide what is worthy of his attention. Or maybe we receive his love, wrap it up around us like a down comforter, and snuggle up in the fluffy warmth for a long winter’s nap. But his love is raw, pulsing life that was never meant to stop with us. It has no boundaries. Not of “small” or “big” or “relative to other people’s problems.” Not of a need or person or household or community or nation. It flows freely to the ends of the earth and back again.

On Sunday, in the middle of a challenging and powerful message, my pastor made this statement: “God fills Jesus. Jesus fills the church. The church fills the world, revealing the presence of God in it.” We are the body of Christ. We were given his kindness not only because of his love for us, but because of his love for all the world. Yes, it’s a broken world, and there is hunger, sickness, and pain.  But we are here, as the hands and feet of a loving God, to feed the hungry, heal the sick, and comfort the hurting. Can each of us meet every need? No way, no how. Can each of us be one part of the body, working together to show this broken world what love looks like? Heck yeah!

So here is my confession. I have been stuffed full with the nourishment of God, grown plump in his goodness, and slept soundly in my fatness while others have gone hungry. I’m still a bit groggy with sleep in my eyes, but am starting to wake up to the very exciting truth that God made me because he needs me. He made you because he needs you. He knit us together in love, not so we could be some tight clique that self-centeredly rejoices in its position, but to declare the love of God to a world in need. So that they might be knit together with us, and proclaim with all their hearts the great love of the God who drew them in through the kindness of his people.


Responses

  1. Well spoken, Kara; you bring practical, contemporary application to ancient truths. Keep it up. Many will appreciate your insight.

    • Thank you for the encouragement Diane!


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