1605) God’s Megaphone

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    Everyone has noticed how hard it is to turn our thoughts to God when everything is going well with us.  We ‘have all we want’ is a terrible saying when ‘all’ does not include God.  We find God an interruption.  As St Augustine says somewhere, “God wants to give us something, but cannot, because our hands are full—there’s nowhere for Him to put it.”  Or as a friend of mine said, “We regard God as an airman regards his parachute; it’s there for emergencies but he hopes he’ll never have to use it.”  

     Now God, who has made us, knows what we are and that our happiness lies in Him.  Yet we will not seek it in Him as long as he leaves us any other resort where it can even plausibly be looked for.  While what we call ‘our own life’ remains agreeable we will not surrender it to Him.  What then can God do in our interests but make ‘our own life’ less agreeable to us, and take away the plausible source of false happiness?

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     The Christian doctrine of suffering explains, I believe, a very curious fact about the world we live in.  The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world:  but joy, pleasure, and merriment, He has scattered broadcast.  We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy.  It is not hard to see why.  The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God:  a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency.  Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.

–C. S. Leiws in The Problem of Pain

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Deuteronomy 8:2-3  —  Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.  He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

Psalm 119:67  —  Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.

Hebrews 12:10b-11  —  God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.  No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

II Chronicles 7:13-14  —  (The Lord said), “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people; then, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

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Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

Kyrie eleison, An important prayer in Christian liturgy from earliest times.