Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The Jews seek Signs and Greeks seek Argument.

A man praying at a Japanese Shintō shrine.Image via Wikipedia
From time to time I don’t feel inspired and I think that I have nothing to say, in fact that’s how I’m feeling at the moment.  I was reading an article earlier that suggested that we should spend an hour, or half hour each day practicing being creative, no matter what, and perhaps that’s why I’m writing this article.

The truth is I feel deflated and I think it’s because of the dreadful news in Japan and for that matter the events recently in New Zealand, and on and on and on.

In an earlier post I alluded to MrC being involved in a national disaster and that is true, but somehow then I was able to do something and whilst I did suffer later, at the time I was active and ‘needed’, now I feel useless and saddened, deeply.  Perhaps I shouldn’t.

Lesley Fellows wrote an article about prayer, and I read it, it was okay but failed, for me, to accept that prayer does change things, ‘for real’, in a miraculous way if you like.  For me, prayer can, and does alter the laws of nature and does lead to ‘miracles’.  I’ve no idea when or how or why, but I believe it can.  For me it is an article of faith to believe that God can and does alter this sometimes machine like existence we call life.  For me this ‘truth’ is part of what the incarnation was and the resurrection continues to be about.

To pray to a god who cannot assist, cannot respond, is possibly personally edifying and maybe helpful for the health of the mind, but it is not adequate for me.

I saw a sign. It said “There is probably no God” and I thought, so it’s a matter of faith then.  The Jews seek Signs and Greeks seek argument.



  1. I can see your comment in the side bar but not in the blog - how odd!

    I think I have to talk a little about myself. We moved from the most wonderful place in Kent to Bristol just 2 weeks after 9/11. My children struggled to adapt to our new life, I struggled. The bombs started to rain on Afghanistan. And it turned into one of my most serious faith crises. How could I possibly pray for 2 middle class children in one of the safest countries in the world to a God who clearly did not hear the prayers of Afghan mothers huddled in caves in the mountains? Could I really expect God to look after me if he wasn’t looking after them? And how would I feel about him if he did?
    I could only resolve this by clinging on to the belief that this is simply not how God operates.

    Some years later my then 11 year old daughter was diagnosed with leukaemia. I can honestly say that in all the 3 years of her illness I have not once prayed for her physical healing.
    Again – how could I believe in a God who heals her but not the baby in the next bed, or the other 11 year old we met when we were first admitted to the paediatric hospital and who died of the same illness 6 months later?
    And yet – I never experienced the power of prayer as strongly as I did in those days. I had an unshakeable sense of God’s presence, my daughter and I managed to keep calm and focused on her treatment, we felt we were walking on other people’s prayers, and I know that a lot of people prayed for her every day for the whole of her illness. I went through times of almost supernatural calm, acceptance, deep trust in that All Will Be Well… and that even included the possibility of facing my baby’s death.
    Granted, I don’t know how I would have coped had it really come to that. There were appallingly dark and difficult times for all of us. God doesn’t take the suffering away, after all. My younger daughter suffered a lot of psychological damage, both girls needed extensive counselling in the end.
    But I know that the deep peace, the calm, the patience, the ability so smile with nurses, joke with doctors, hold my girl through painful treatment, that her acceptance and astonishingly calm battle for her life, her ability to make friends wherever she went in the hospital – that all these things came from God. Because we had not had them before, they seemed a clear result of prayer – ours and that of others.

    I believe that growing into God means accepting the trials of life, just like Jesus did. It’s no good asking to be spared this cup – that is not the example we’re following. It’s about learning how to live with this cup hanging over us and being given the courage and determination to drink it if we must.

    And to be aware that our courage is God’s gift, that is his intervention.

  2. I do appreciate the work you've put into this and the deeply personal explanation you have made here, thank you very much indeed. In my own experience life is very much as you describe it and I have personal and ongoing experience not dissimilar to your own. However, I have experience of 'miracles' and I cannot explain how they have occurred (obviously) and truthfully I don't wish to know. This is possibly why I believe in God's intervention as described above. I don't believe that we need to pray hard to make things get better but I do believe in the impossible happening. I like your description of Christ and it is one I can easily identify with. However I also believe in the miracle stories of the New Testament. God Bless you. MrC

  3. Mr C
    I agree, there are instances where the apparently impossible is happening.
    My big problem is that I cannot believe this comes from God because it would make a loving God impossible for me.

    I would love to know how you solve that intellectual problem.

  4. What precisely is the intellectual problem Erika? I could have a go at answering your question but I might be guessing as to what is you difficulty. Is it because to have a God that intervenes, physically for example, in answer to prayer, would disadvantage one person over another? Or is it that it might tentatively suggest that christs redemptive work is something we can add to through our prayers?

    lol MrC

  5. Mr C
    the problem is that love has to be just to be real. You do not treat your children differently, not materially. You do not give one all the medicine there is while refusing to take the other to the doctor.
    You do not give one the finest foods while feeding the other on stale bread.

    A God who intervenes selectively in some people's lives but who does not intervene in others who suffer as much or even more, is not credible as a loving God, never mind LOVE itself.

    If I, in my small way, can love better than that, then God cannot be less because he can never be less than anything we can be or contemplate.

    I could not trust a capricious God and I certainly could not love him.

  6. Hi Erika, I've tried to offer my thoughts on your question, but I don't think I've done you justice. Anyhow its on the next blog entitled, to Erica, in your honour.

    lol MrC