A Digital Refresh – April 15, 2020: Dear God, where are you and why are you not listening to me?

Mini-Yo-We

Today’s reflection comes from Joyce-Ann Spinney. She took a moment to introduce herself because not all of you would have had a chance to connect with her:

Hi! My name is Joyce-ann and I am the Food Services Assistant Manager here at Mini-Yo-We. I moved to Mini-Yo-We in September and have been living in Fair Glen at South Camp. I am from a small fishing village in Nova Scotia and have been working in camp kitchens since I was a teenager. I am a doctor of theology candidate (student) at the U of T on year 7 of the 4-year plan. Today in my isolation I learned how to take a selfie and actually have myself in the picture!

Today’s Reading: Psalm 13

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?

-Psalm 13:1

Prayer provides a safe place for us to explore the emotions and to expose our souls longings and needs to God.

The psalmist asks “how long will this continue?” “Will you forget me forever?” These are questions asked by someone who knows God. Someone who knows that God is good, gracious, compassionate and that God’s love for his people has no end. These are questions that are asked by believers who find themselves in situations in which God seems very distant IF he is even there at all. That the Psalmist can ask these kinds of questions means that we can ask these kinds of questions too. Some of us may know people who are fighting COVID-19. Some of us have friends or family members who have been struggling and no matter how fervently we lift them up in prayer to God nothing ever seems to change. God loves. God heals. God redeems. God provides. We know these statements to be true. It is also true that life is hard. People get sick. People die. Bad things happen to good people. Where is God in all of this? We can lay our souls at God’s feet and demand that he take notice.

What do we do when God is not paying attention to us? We pray!

How we pray and what we pray is important. We can yell and scream and get all worked up. Sometimes we cannot listen until after the pent up rage has found its way out. It is important that when we pray we respect the authority that God has over our lives.

When Israel rebelled against God in the wilderness God was going to destroy them but Moses wouldn’t let God be until he agreed to redeem some of his people. Moses reminded God of the promises he had made to his people. Moses reminded God that if Israel would be wiped out that it would have a negative impact on his image and his mission to be known by all humanity.

It is ok to ask God to show the world his power and to allow us to see his glory as he heals and restores humanity to himself. It is okay to say (to God) that certain situations (ie COVID-19) make it look like he does not care about the world or anything in it. It is ok to tell God that the feelings of anxiety, fear, and/or depression brought on by social/physical distancing make it hard to see how anything that is happening in the world right now could be good in any way. It is ok to ask God how he could allow this to happen. But we have to be careful that in expressing our pains and fears that we do not allow ourselves to take the place of God in our lives.

Many times I have put myself on God’s throne (so to speak) and not even known it until much much later.

I have found it to be very important to be real, honest, and vulnerable in my conversations with God. But I have also found that I need to be careful that no matter what I feel or what I see or how the situations I am facing are affecting me, that God still holds the ultimate authority for my life. There often is a gaping gorge between what I know about God (that he is good for example) and what my life experiences tell me about God. That gorge gets crossed by our faith. If we have faith that God is good even when it seems like he is not, then our focus on the goodness of God can help us to navigate situations where it looks for all the world that God does not care. It is often the case in the psalms that the psalmist laments his circumstances or the circumstances of God’s people. The psalmists talk a lot about unjust suffering. Yet in almost every psalm of lament, the psalmist finishes off with a series of theological truths that apart from faith the psalmist would not be able to claim as true. The shift near the end of these psalms is important to note because it changes the focus away from humans and turns it back to the almighty God. Does anything in the world make sense right now? Not really, no. And that is hard! That causes anxiety. That causes tensions and stress and all sorts of troubles. Acknowledging the trials is very important. But it is just as important to acknowledge that no matter what happens, that God is still God. God is still good. God is still just. God is still a God of love.

God has been trying really hard to get this through my thick skull and I have found it to be a very hard lesson to learn.

God’s goodness does not depend on me, personally, being able to see his goodness in any specific event. If God works a miracle and COVID-19 ceases to exist overnight, all praise and glory be to God forever. But, no matter how long we have to endure painful trials, God is still good and we need to continue to glorify Him. As Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah said to the king: If God saves us great. If we die in the fire that does not change who God is or our determination to worship him and him alone. This is not about me. It is not about me. I have a duty to my fellow believers, to my friends, to my family, to the leaders of this country and the world to uphold them in prayer before God. It is not about me. It is about God.

I pray that this will be a time in which our faith and our resolve to worship our Lord and Saviour are strengthened.

May God’s grace and peace be with you

Joyce-ann

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A Digital Refresh is a regular series for the staff at Mini-Yo-We.
When we gather together for worship and learn from God’s word we call it “Refresh.” Even though we aren’t at camp we can still gather together to share God’s word through a Digital Refresh.

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