Chaplain’s Corner: CLXVIII

“That’s How Love Is”

What is God’s greatest miracle? Is it the parting of the Red Sea? Feeding thousands of hungry people with a few loaves and fish? Raising Jesus from the dead? Interestingly, we can make the case that the most compelling of all God’s miracles is the miracle of restraint.

Why doesn’t God heal every disease? Or thwart the tornado that’s approaching a subdivision? Or incapacitate missiles that are headed toward helpless non-combatants in a war zone? God has plenty of such opportunities to reveal himself to a fearful, spiritually famished world. Likewise, God is roasted on social media every day. God could wipe out all those social media posts with a wave of the hand. Why doesn’t He do it?

Cambridge biologist Richard Dawkins who wears atheism as a badge of honor unloads on the Almighty in his book The God Delusion: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak; a vindictive bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser, a racist, malevolent bully.”

Many assume three things: If God is really there and really cares, and really has the power in the universe, He would always intercede to help us according to our hopes and prayers. Likewise many of us assume that if we can’t think of a good reason why God doesn’t intercede every time we suffer, there must be good reasons

Actually, it’s easy to see that choosing not to intercede-as dreadful as that may seem to be in the moment-is often the ultimate way that genuine love can be expressed.

Why does God allow us to experience so much pain and loss, when at any time he could silence his critics, devise supernatural shortcuts, and set everything right? The answer seems to be that God’s love is always persuasive never coercive. Think of Jesus on the cross. Although He acknowledged that at any moment He could snap his fingers and summon a cadre of angels..that would have been utterly contrary to his mission. His call was to suffer and die; to pray his opponents might be forgiven. Thus most of the time, God remains silent.

He waits as our trust grows. He watches as we take baby steps toward a deeper maturity. He keeps performing the miracle of divine restraint. Because that’s how love is.

Ron Naylor, Chaplain