This week I find myself grieving with many of my friends who have, at least it seems to me lost their hope in the promises of God. One wrote this morning to say he thought there was light at the end of the tunnel and now feels it was really a train coming in the other direction. Another feels they have been cut back to the nub pruned to an ugly stump that they are not sure will sprout again. And as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago I too have been struggling because we have not seen the finances we need come in for the Mustard Seed Village. We feel as though we have reached for the peace of God and ended up with junk instead.
So what is the problem? I suspect part of it is that we are hoping for the wrong things. We think we understand what God has promised and charge ahead towards that without realizing that we have actually gone off the tracks. Sometimes we try to force our own solutions to work and end up with a bigger mess than we started with. Sometimes we just feel confused because nothing seems clear.
Another part of the problem is that we just don’t understand what God is about. God is about love, compassion, peace, justice and joy. God is about transforming us from self centred know it alls to other centred servants who understand they have more to learn than to teach in all and any of the experiences of life. And the pain of disillusionment and unfulfilled promises is often the best pathway through which we learn this. It is when we are hurting and vulnerable that God is most able to work in our lives partly because in that state we know that we are no longer in control. And that is the crux of the matter – we all want to be in control of our lives, of our ministries and even, often of the promises God has given us. We want our solutions not God’s.
The third part of the problem is that we think what worked in the past is what God is wanting to do now and so we tend to be closed to new and often breathtaking possibilities. I am reminded here of the story of Lazarus. When Jesus heard his friend was ill he did not immediately jump into action. He actually waited two days before he headed out to see his friend and in that time Lazarus died. And as a result Jesus did something entirely new. He did not heal, he raised from the dead. It always makes me wonder is that part of the message of disappointment that God wants to teach us too. We are looking for healing, but God’s plan is resurrection.
Letting go of control for our lives and ministries is probably the hardest challenge all of us face but it is essential if we are to grow into the loving, caring compassionate people God intends us to be. Thinking about this today I wrote this prayer.
May we lean into your promises O God
And find the hope that raised Jesus from the dead
May we see your light shining in the midst of darkness
And hear your voice whispering in the stillness of the night
May we dream again of your kingdom coming
And look with trust and humility for your will to be done
May we yearn for life in your kingdom of love