the problem of prayer…

Earlier this week, I had some tragic news.  I met my friend Laxmi in 2007 at the World Youth Forum.  Commited, passionate, with a great sense of humour. she made a huge difference to everyone she met, and was a fearless advocate for the struggling in her home country, Nepal.  She was also in Kathmandu during the earthquake.  She was found dead in the rubble.

Today I sat on a beach with a new friend.  Whilst our children played, she told me how things were going for them.  Her life is falling apart inch by inch, and every time she dares to have faith that things might finally, possibly, improve, something else comes along to kick her in the teeth.  She’s barely hanging in there.

I could go on.  The dear friend who’s an inpatient in a psychatric ward, the friends and family members desperately ill, the wars raging on in the world which seem to never end. People I love facing an uncertain future, desperately worried about what the next step is. Closer to home, our own battles and struggles over miscarriage.  All these situations where hope is hard to find.

And then.  And then I sit in a car with someone who is praying for a parking space.  And when he finds one, he thanks God for it.

Something about that doesn’t make sense to me.  I can’t see how God can answer the trivial, but leave the desperate.  A God who arranges parking spaces for his children, but leaves others to die of hunger, malnutrition and natural disasters is not one I’m sure I want to serve.

And I don’t know what the answer is, actually.  I don’t know where healthy skepicism becomes cynicism.  I don’t want to leave my brains behind to be a Christian, but I don’t want to spend my entire time questioning my brothers and sisters.  I look at the world, broken, hurting, and I wonder if it’s ok to ask God where He is.  If it’s ok to get bloody cross at God, even hate Him sometimes.  I just don’t know.

My favourite verse of scripture is never going to be a sampler.  You’re not going to find it along with pictures of fluffy kittens, as seemed to feature fairly strongly amongst the faithful of my adolesence.  It’s Jesus, on the cross, crying out to His Father.  His Father, who He’d spent his life following.

“My God, My God – why have you forsaken me?”

For all I know, God is busy arranging parking spaces.  I don’t know, I’m not Him.  I suspect if I were the Almighty, I’d have better things to do with omnipresence, but there we go.  I don’t know.

I do know that somewhere, God’s in the bigger stuff.  The heartaches, the crap, the stress, the illness.  Whatever it is.  He’s in it because He’s been it.  He’s lived through it all in Christ, and He gets it.  And He knows what it’s like.  He knows what it’s like to have everything you’ve loved about, cared about, poured yourself out for, taken from you.  He knows what it’s like to wonder if you’re alone.  He knows the agony of inevitable destruction.

And because of Him, we can know the end of the story.  We can cry out and wonder why we’re forsaken, alone.  Because we know that eventually, it works out.  Eventually, the night ends.  Eventually, Love Wins.


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One Response to the problem of prayer…

  1. Peter says:

    He may thank God for it – but did God find it for him ? Perhaps in creating a world where freedom counts, God chooses not to intervene (in the trivial as much as in matters of life and dearth), even makes it impossible for God to do so, however painful God may find that.

    Maybe it’s us who need to “find” God’s activity in the trivial precisely because God cannot ever seem to be found in the desperate – though, as you say, if we did but realise it, God is always there as our companion.

    But I realise that, for some at least, I may have crossed the line from scepticism to cynicism !

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