The cry of ‘When?’ and its cries of aspiration, exasperation and desperation are, thankfully, often answered. Yet, it is not always so. When the door opens, instead of finding of ourselves here and now with God with our fellowship renewed and restored, we find that God is still nowhere.
At such times the only word that rightly describes our state of heart, mind and soul is ‘No!’
It is a word filled with rage and anger not only at God, but also at how the situation has been allowed to continue. The sheer ferocity of the word is one that is rightly disturbs and frightens us, yet it is a word that we need to learn to pray to its fullest depths.
You may be thinking and feeling that this cannot be so, because doesn’t this word describe rampant unbelief and rejection of God?
Though you would be right to think this, it is not the whole story. It is a word that also describes the purifying of faith and a clarifying of who this God, who we believe in, is really like.
‘No!’ is a word that describes our right sense that justice has not been done, not just to us but to the countless millions whose lives are ground down and brutalised. ‘No!’ is the only word that rightly describes our, and God’s, refusal to accept the world as it is where so often it is the rich and the powerful who are allowed to get away literally with murder. ‘No!’ says there has to be a better way and so we are energised to pursue it.
‘No!’ is a word that refuses to let God off, that is for him to be faithful to his covenant and promises. But it is also a discovery that God may not be who we would like him to be. ‘No!’ is that moment when we realise the depths endured by Jesus in his suffering and death and what it means for us to take up our cross and follow him. ‘No!’ is the realisation that God is always far greater and bigger than any of us have ever realised before.
‘No!’ is the discovery that faith in Jesus is not a matter of easy believe-ism but of the ongoing call to work out our faith in fear and trembling. It is when we discover that God calls us to not be passive or submissive in our obedience and love but obedient and shouty as we follow him.
Does such a faith disturb or worry you? It is the faith of the Law, Psalms and Prophets and so it is the faith of Jesus; may it be ours too.