When God rocks your world
This morning’s sermon moved me in so many ways and triggered so many thoughts that amidst tears streaming down my cheeks, I was scrambling to scribble down whatever the Lord was laying upon my heart.
This year, we are embarking on the book of Exodus and this morning, Pastor Kai took us through an overview of the major themes in this wonderful book: that God rocks our world to free us from our dark bondages, to liberate us from our self-sufficiencies and to deliver us from our weak theologies. Towards the end of the sermon, Pastor Kai showed us a video clip of the cruxificion of Jesus Christ taken from the movie ‘The Passion’, and that was when my tears started welling up in my eyes. This was not because the scenes were filled with so much pain (and they were); it was not that I was seeing this scene for the first time; and it was not even that I felt a sense of amazement at how much my God suffered for me (which I did). I teared because I heard Him whisper in my ear: “Son, this is my answer to you”.
You see, last December I went on a missions trip to Cambodia and during one of our team’s debrief sessions, I shared how the poverty I saw around me hit me in a very real way, arousing in me an incredibly strong sense of anger, social injustice, inequity, frustration and helplessness all rolled in one. Coupled with an earlier visit to the S21 torture camp during the Khmer Rouge era, I suddenly and inexplicably found myself crying at the injustice of it all. And yes, I directed some of these questions at God. Like Job, I wondered aloud, I questioned within, and I sobbed and beat my breast at a God who seems to be silent when evil happens. And I remember poignantly (as my team-mates who were with me did) the final question that I voiced – “The Khmer Rouge soldiers could be excused on grounds of merely following orders; societies could be excused for what they did because they were under the sway of a deluded tyrant; I could even find excuses for governments for the widespread corruption and inequity…but what excuse does God have?”
I found no answers that night when I asked that question. But my God is truly an amazing God such that in His time, and in His way, He provides the answers our soul needs. As I watched the video clip of what Jesus did for me by going to the cross, I knew that was all the answer I needed. As I clasped my tear-stained face in my hands and bowed down, I knew that God did not make any excuse. Because in His actions, He came down to suffer with us – and for us. What makes me think that my heart for the poor and the suffering can ever outmatch God’s heart? A verse immediately also surfaced in my mind: Hebrews 4:15 which says, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin”.
A ‘double confirmation’ was given to me when Pastor Kai asked at one point in his sermon, “God works through an unexpected agent. What do you think this agent is?” Immediately, I thought the answer would be a baby (Jesus), or the Holy Spirit, or weak people (like Moses). But his answer hit me like a thunderbolt – God works through the agent of suffering. For most of us, I suspect that suffering is something we strive to avoid or eliminate as much as possible in our lives. Like the opening song in Les Miserables, we look down, look down – to avert our eyes from the suffering that makes us uncomfortable. But our God tells us instead to look up, look up – to a God who understands our suffering and sits with us in our pain. He doesn’t shun, he doesn’t hide, he doesn’t look away. Instead, he promises us that he will never leave nor forsake us, yes even in our darkest moments of pain, of suffering and of unanswerable questions.
This also brought to mind a quote that I really like by C.S. Lewis: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world”. Yes I believe God heals, yes I believe God blesses; but I also believe that in our individual Via Dolorosa’s, those are the places where God meets us most deeply and touches us most completely.
When Mikhail Gorbachev took over as the leader of the Soviet Union in 1985, he inherited a country that looked and acted like a superpower on the outside, but inside was stagnating and decaying. In the face of such contradictions, he told his wife Raisa, “we can’t go on living like this anymore”. In the next 6 years, he would take steps that slowly but surely led to the end of the Soviet Union and a new beginning. After my Cambodian mission trip and after today’s sermon, I know that I can’t go on living like this anymore. Pastor Kai mentioned that when God rocks your world, nothing will be the same anymore. I truly believe that God has rocked mine.