“God is good in the midst of the darkness. No matter what is happening, God is there in the midst” @justinbieber #OneLoveManchester
This and various versions of it span around the Twittersphere from a wide-ish (as wide as one’s twitter gets) range of people, church leaders, youth workers, and minor Christian celebrities. I have been thinking about this for the last few weeks in context of the times in which we currently live, and all the horror, shock, despair and uncertainty, as well as all of the other realities and feelings.
The original impassioned call was seen by more than all the combined efforts of retweets on Twitter – on my timeline anyway – and whilst this message of ‘God with Us’ is encouraging, there is something about it that makes shuffle slightly uncomfortably. I’m not talking about my discomfort with Bieber’s life and his Christian message (again, taking all this stuff with a pinch of salt – who can trust the media anyway). Rather, whilst the sentiment of the message is clear and well intentioned, I’m just not sure its that simple.
The older I get, the longer I walk the tricky path of faith that God is with me, even in the midst of me in difficult times. I believe this, but how I believe God is with me in the darkness is at times as complex as the shades of dark and light I experience. Thankfully we have the Psalms (actually the whole bible) to explore this issue in -and I realise I’m not the only one!
My discomfort comes from the way in which to easy to jump on that notion and say, yes that’s it, don’t worry, God is with us, its OK. Then it’s retweeted as if it would inspire hope, rather than bringing attention to the long haul of walking with people as they face the darkness, when they can’t see God – which is often long and sad and complex. My experience is that we build others up in faith not through shouting at them that God is there (cue giant sponge pointing finger) but in quietness and trust (Isaiah 30:15) holding a hand, being present for the long – haul .
Yes I think it is better Bieber said something about God being with us than not said anything! I just think there is so much more, and I want to say, ‘yes God is in the midst, but if you don’t see him or feel him then you are not strange or wrong, keep going, God is not afraid of suffering and perhaps one day we won’t be either, I’m here for you, for the long haul.’