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Christianity Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

Where is God while we face difficulties in life?

by Saju Muthalaly, UK

I was traveling on a train a couple of months ago. Sitting right opposite to me was a 22 year old young man who grew up in a Christian family. He told me that his father used to be a deacon in the Church.

He asked me a perpetually valid question. Where is God in the chaos and pandemonium of life!? Why did God take away my father 6 months ago in a fatal accident? Why do I feel a vacuum in my life as a result of that loss? Having worked with young people for a number of years now I write this as a response to the questions our young people have.

Our progeny demand answers to the questions that are defined and derived in their hearts and minds. It is pivotal that our young people turn to the Church for the answers to their questions.

God's ways are mysterious. When Job asked God about the reason for his suffering all God gave him was a series of 64 questions in the book of Job.

Suffering is real and one can never solve it in a sermonic fashion…  May I present to you an example in the life of Blessed Mary and Joseph..

Joseph and Mary were broken people in every sense of the word. They knew what suffering in its sadistic nature. Mother Mary was a teenager, she is poor, she was a devout follower of God. Mary was pledged or engaged to Joseph. Between the pledge and the wedding feast was a period usually lasting six months to a year. During that period the couples were considered to be married and were called husband and wife but they did not live together or have marital relations. It was a contract between families for a future marriage.  She was going to be an unwed mother. Who would believe her story? This is a terrifying experience for a 15-year-old girl to become pregnant out of wedlock, especially in the Ancient Jewish society.

Mary could be stoned on the spot for breaking this contract by becoming pregnant.

Gone are the happy dreams of a beautiful wedding; gone are the days of sweet anticipation; gone are the carefully thought out plans for the wedding feast. There will be a wedding feast, but not the way she planned.
What do you see?… I see brokenness.

There was Joseph. What would he say? How would He react? And Mary had no way of knowing how Joseph would respond to her pregnancy. Would he blow his top and walk out on her? Would he humiliate her publicly? Would he dump her? After all, he knew he wasn't the father. As the story turned out, Mary had every reason to worry about Joseph because he was planning to break up with her. 
What do you see?… I see brokenness.

God sent an angel to her to explain how and why she was pregnant, but no one else in town got the message. In spite of the fact that it was the most wonderful thing that had ever happened on earth, there were times when it didn't seem that way, for a young 15-year-old girl who was now mysteriously pregnant…  
What do you see?… I see brokenness.

Every woman must have dreams of having her first child, and she wants that child to be born in the best of circumstances.

When you have a full-term pregnancy it is bad enough to take a trip to the hospital with a nervous husband in a car, let alone take a donkey ride for over seventy unbearable miles. It is no wonder her labour started. No woman in her right mind would undergo such a. But, circumstances being what they were, that is exactly what Mary had to do.  And she did not go into a clean hospital with a comfortable bed and sterile delivery room with professional medical help at her side. Of all the dirty places in the world, she delivered in a stable, a barn right next to the cows, the sheep, the donkeys and the muck that may have been there. Her cries were muffled only by the noise of the animals. What must have been going through her mind as she was in labour laying in the straw and stench of the stable? God's will must have seemed mysterious indeed. 
What do you see?… I see brokenness. 

Mary's Brokenness didn't just start and finish with the birth of Jesus. In the end she would face the greatest pain a mother can endure when she would watch her son die on a cross. The final appearance of Mary in the 4 Gospels occurs in a violent scene that she did not want to witness -- on a hill outside Jerusalem, watching helplessly as her first-born son who was once treated like a king, now hung on a cross like a criminal. Mary was a broken woman and she was broken consistently. 
What do you see?… I see brokenness.

Not only was Mary broken virgin but Joseph was a broken man too We don't hear much about Joseph. He is mysteriously absent in the Scriptures. It is possible that he left Mary a widow at a relatively young age…

But what we do know is that He was a just and a spiritual man who believed and obeyed God. He was a protective husband and father.  He cared for Jesus as though Jesus was his own son.  He was well known in the Jewish community. (John 6.42)

The girl of his dreams is Pregnant and he realises that he is not the dad. It did not seem wonderful to a young man who was beginning to wonder about the girl he thought was so decent and good. He wanted to do the right thing, even though custom would have permitted him to have her stoned to death. 
What do you see?… I see Brokenness.

Bear with me as I make a few assumptions here… but giving Joseph enough room for the benefit of the doubt. You can feel with Joseph as his friends sympathized with him in order to get more information about what had happened. You can feel his hurt as he knew what people were saying about the girl he loved and was planning to marry. If you have ever been gossiped about you can imagine what he went through. 
What do you see?… I see Brokenness

You can feel his confusion and anger. Finally, God spoke to him in a dream. (Matthew 1:20,21- The angel of the Lord said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins"

He had been thinking of breaking the engagement — of quietly setting Mary aside, but now the dream had convinced him otherwise. It had not convinced anyone else, but it had convinced him. Joseph is probably thinking about his responsibility of taking care of this holy child.  As Joseph looks into that manger, I'm sure he had some freaking questions:

"How in the world am I supposed to be the stepfather to the Son of God? And how is this baby going to take away sins? How is this all going to work?"

And when will he become a king? Early in life? Later in life? 

When can I become a king's dad? When can I stop working as a carpenter? 

How will he reign forever, since no one lives forever? How is this all going to work?"

With all these questions in his mind,  What do you see here... I see brokenness.

For Mary and Joseph it was wonderful, and yet it was disastrous. There must have been many times when they asked the question: "Why can't we have had normal lives, and normal children, like everyone else?" 

In the midst of this confusion, uncertainty, chaos, turmoil, and havoc… God revealed himself in unexpected ways… 

One of the things that we learn from the story of Mary and Joseph is that God does not always conform to human expectations Two thousand years later we can see how wonderful it was, but at the time it was hard for them to see God's will for life is wonderful. Sometimes God's blessings are disguised in very difficult circumstances. God does not always confirm to Human expectations.

God's frame of reference is different from ours. 

It's a bit like a man who decided to talk to God.  
"God", he said, "how long is a thousand years?"  
God answered, "In my frame of reference, it's about a minute."  
The man asked, "God, how much is a million dollars for you?"  
God answered, "To Me, it's 1 dollar."  
The man then asked, "God, can I have a dollar?"  
God said, "In a minute."

These are the words in St. Luke's gospel- "In those days, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman World" (Luke 2:1).

If there had been a review in the Newspapers in the year 4BC, I'm certain these words would have been heard:

"The destiny of the world is being shaped by Caesar Augustus."

I am sure the newspapers would have had full of the stories about Caesar Augustus… and the headlines would have said something like this… 

"A census taken to change the course of history for ever'' 

And yet today as I have examined the best libraries in the world there is no record left of that census… and we don't hear very much about Caesar Augustus.

But what we do hear is about a baby born that year that shaped our world!

History would have us believe that the kings and emperors and armies, navies and air forces shape our world. Most items considered "newsworthy" revolve around these powerful figures. 

Let me write something that happened in 1809 in the western world. In 1809, for example, the newspapers would have been full of the stories about Napoleon's campaigns. 

International attention was focused on Napoleon marching across Austria and Spain.  "Little else was newsworthy.'' 

In 1809, it seemed as though Napoleon was the only one shaping the destiny of the world. Yet in 1809 at least seven remarkable babies were born.

1. William Gladstone, who was destined to become one of England's greatest Prime Ministers was born in 1809. 

2. Alfred Lord Tennyson, who was destined to become one of Britain's finest poets and writers was born in 1809. 

3. Edgar Allan Poe, the famous American writer, was born in 1809.

4. Louis Braille, famous for his invention to allow the blind to read was born in 1809. 

5. Felix Mendelssohn, the famous composer was born in 1809.

6.Charles Darwin, who was to achieve fame in science with his Evolutionary Theory, was born in 1809. 

7. Abraham Lincoln – probably the greatest American President ever - was born in 1809.

If there had been a review of the year 1809, I'm certain these words would have been heard:

"The destiny of the world is being shaped on the battlefields in Austria and Spain today."

How Ironic that history was actually being shaped in 7 cradles in England and America. 

Similarly, at the time of Jesus' birth everyone thought that Caesar Augustus was shaping the destiny of the world.  But they were wrong. History was being shaped in a cradle in Bethlehem – ON THE LAPS OF TWO UTTERLY BROKEN PEOPLE… AND THAT WAS EXACTLY where Jesus was born- in the midst of Brokenness.

God is the God of the past, present and the future He sees things from a very different perspective. I have the deepest respect for Mother Mary and Joseph who has something to teach our post- modern minds today. 

Mary and Joseph humbly accept their status, along with any embarrassment, suspicion, and misunderstandings. They leave this tight spot in God's hands. 

Someone once wisely said, "Those who see God's hand in everything leave everything in God's hands…

May the timeless truth from their lives be timely in our lives today!

See Also:

God has not Abandoned the World
The text of the joint declaration signed 10 June 2002 by Patriarch Bartholomeos of Constantinople and Pope John Paul II on the shared Christian responsibility to safeguard the environment.

The Grace That Is Costly And Yet Is Free
When Jesus said, "Take up your cross and follow me", he was really saying, "Come with me and die!" Any attempt to follow Christ on the basis of partial commitment is trying to buy heaven with only casual discipleship.

Reflections on St. Mary, Mother of God
Why our Church gives utmost importance to St Mary, even higher than all saints and the apostles and reasons thereof.

The Lesson of Surrender, Devotion and Love from Jesus Christ's Life
I would like to share with you here some of my humble thoughts concerning these important parts of Jesus' life, birth, death and resurrection, which we celebrate yearly.

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