(And another old post.)
“So how’s Debbie?”
I knew the reason for the question. Debbie was seven months pregnant with our first child. The woman who asked barely knew her, so it was a kind question.
“She’s doing well, thank you,” I replied, “there have been odd little things, but really we couldn’t have wished for a better pregnancy. She’s having the best pregnancy of all the mums-to-be in our ante-natal class.”
“Ah well, you know why that is, don’t you?”
I recognised the implication: Debbie’s model pregnancy was because we were Christians. I countered:
“But of the eight couples in the ante-natal class, we aren’t the only Christians. We are one of three Christian couples, and they haven’t been let off as lightly as we have.”
Not only that, but around that time, two other Christian women we knew gave birth to babies with major health problems. One baby had just a one in three chance of survival; the other had a hole in the heart and a bowel disorder. A colostomy bag from birth until she was strong enough for corrective surgery.
So God isn’t just some celestial insurance policy. Believe in God and life will be ‘lovely jubbly’, as Del Boy would say. It’s not like that.
A young child is reputed to have asked its mother, “Mummy, do all fairy-tales end with the words ‘And they all lived happily ever after’?”
“No,” said Mum, “some say, ‘When I became a Christian all my problems disappeared’.”
Christians live between the glory and the flame, the joy and the suffering. God’s reign has begun in Jesus, but there is still plenty of cosmic and human resistance.
I still believe in an ‘optimism of grace’, that God loves to hear and answer our prayers. I don’t know why I don’t always get what I think I need. I simply don’t have all the answers.
But I’ve seen enough of God in Jesus to believe he is trustworthy. And in the meantime I’ll pray and act in the cause of the flame giving way to glory.