Hereford Times Article - 14/05/2020
When my daughter was 16 we bought her a rabbit. We ended up mostly looking after it, and by mistake we got an extra long lived one, so we were saddled with it long after she left home!Every evening I would play out the ritual to get it (its name was Dumpling) from its run. Every evening was the same. The rabbit cowered in the corner just out of reach. I really had the rabbit’s best interest at heart.There were foxes around.But for years he always treated my best efforts as cruelty. I sometimes wondered how I could help Dumpling to understand I cared about him.The answer, I concluded, would have been to become a rabbit.Dumpling could no more understand what I was doing than I can understand quantum physics.
That is a slightly frivolous start to a bigger question many people are asking.What is God doing in the midst of COVID-19? How could a loving God allow these things to happen?Christians have grappled with that question for centuries, every disaster bringing it back into focus. The cop out response is the Dumpling story.We really have no idea.The workings of the God of the universe are above our pay grade. Indeed, trying to explain why something has happened to those who’ve lost a loved one or a job, or suffering at home from domestic violence is rarely helpful.People sometimes say they wish the world was fair, not realising that if it was, every bad thing that happened to us would have to be our fault.
For Christians the resolution of the question is the simple phrase Good Friday. We may not be able to understand what is going on. But we hold on to the fact that Jesus becoming a human being and dying for us shows that God is intimately involved with us in it. The apostle John reflecting on Jesus said, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son”.He doesn’t stand aloof from human suffering but somehow works in it to bring good out of it.
Meanwhile, the Psalms give us ample language to rage at the apparent injustice and the pain of it all.Jesus used the words himself. And perhaps in that raw honesty we can be inspired to walk with those who suffer.Our silent presence often means much more that our explanations.