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Archive for the ‘God’ Category


We all have those moments when we want something so badly that we pray, hope and wish someone would step in and save the day. It could be for a good reason or just some human ambition that means the world to us. You have this exam that is about to dictate the rest of your life as you see it. This job interview which as far it goes you feel you must get it. A loved one is ill and at a point when we really need someone to step in. Maybe it’s something the world may not think is life changing but it means the world to you. Sometimes it’s just a sinful human craving. You’d be surprised the kind of situations people want God to step in and act on their behalf.

But let’s go with it’s a prayer for a good course however we define that. For those who believe in God he’s our go-to person in these situations and a last resort for everyone. It’s especially the case when there’s no one else who’d care enough and is as able enough to save the situation. And since we believe in God and for the most part we have tried to live up to his will it’s only fair he would step in for us. I mean which good father wouldn’t step in to save the day in such critical times? But then it happens that God doesn’t fly in to save the day. Sometimes he takes too long and other times we don’t see him come through at all. It’s the most lonely you can ever feel when the one person you counted most upon doesn’t come to your aid. Nothing is more disappointing.

I wanted to start by acknowledging this because that’s an undeniable feeling and a lot of us have been here before. Whatever answer theology has it’s a feeling that many have faced and we can’t deny it and shouldn’t undermine it. But this is only one side of the story and I hope you’ll stay put as I try to give you a Biblical perspective. You see it’s when we see God working in the bigger story that we appreciate his involvement in our story. I must tread carefully here though as this is bound to bring painful memories but I think there’s a light at the end of this tunnel. In the end we’ll see God is ever close in our suffering and he actually intervenes even when he is not sought after. If we open our eyes then I don’t think there’s a time we find God closer to us than in our weaknesses. Remember he has gone through suffering and faced our weaknesses in Jesus. He knows our pain, he sees the suffering of the whole world and is never indifferent to it. C.S Lewis said:

“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.”

C.S Lewis

A good place to start is with the story of Israel. It starts with oppression, pain and anguish. These guys weren’t in trouble just for a weekend, not just an exam gone wrong, theirs was a terminal case. But when God intervened it seemed to get worse before it could get better as it feels for us sometimes. You see, it’s one thing to suffer and another to continue suffering despite calling on God who claims he’s available to help us in our time of need. It’s when you’ve been praying for a loved one and their condition seems to get worse that you feel most let down by God. And that’s how Israel feels after God sends Moses to their rescue only for Pharaoh to make their life even worse. Hope is a beautiful sound to a suffering ear but it can hurt even more when it doesn’t pay off. Moses the bearer of good news, the man who had told Israel that God had seen their trouble and sent him to their rescue is angry, sad and disappointed in God.

22 Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? 23 Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”

Exodus 5 NIV

In truth though the pain and hopelessness of Israel is undeniable even to Moses, God was acting even in this situation as we see in the next chapter. It’s always a difficult thing to see God’s hand when things seem to get from bad to worse. I mean who in a million years would have contemplated that our redemption would be born by the suffering and death of Jesus? How can good come out of what seems so evil? How can a good God do anything other than quickly step in and save the situation for his beloved? But from this story we learn that where God seems so absent or powerless and indifferent actually he’s very much involved.

C.S Lewis is right, God is shouting in our pain and we just need to tune our hearts to the frequency of his word to hear how loud he is. We may not always get God’s direct explanation and reassurance as he gives to Moses in Exodus 6. But Bible history from Israel to Jesus tells us we can fully trust in him even in this. It tells us he’s very much in the details and working tirelessly for our good, see Romans 8:28.

When we feel most failed by God what we need is a biblical perspective because the Gospel is his megaphone. Now, I know sometimes that’s the last thing we want, more Bible. I mean sometimes we are not asking for much just a small intervention we say. But I must also say if God was only good because he stepped in when and in the way we always want then he’d really not be above us. He’d simply be a genie with some good wishes. But the story of the Bible, the story of the Gospel helps us see that our story is knit in a bigger cosmic story.

Our problem is that we are inevitably all about our story and yet it’s in both stories that we see God truly act for us. The Bible tells us we need more than a quick fix in our situation. We need our environment changed but more importantly it enlightens us to see we are not as innocent in the grand story as we think. We ourselves needed to be changed if ever our problems are to go away forever. And that’s exactly why God stepped in through Jesus to rescue us from our sin problem and grant us eternal life in a whole new world without pain, suffering and death.

But still our problem is a personal one. We agree with the world needing change and sin being a serious thing. But all we are asking is God to step in now and help his children on the journey before he brings us to our eternal home. Is that toomuch to ask? I think this is where I love our God even more. Because he not only deals with the most fundamental problems we face but he’s actually very close to us and involved in our personal story through it all. In Jesus and by his Holy Spirit he says he’s walking our Exodus with us until the end of times, see Matthew 28: 20. God is very close, he’s with us and even closer in our suffering having lived in this world, suffered and died for us in Jesus.

When we pray to him we are calling on someone who not only is able but cares, sympathises and understands what we are going through, see Hebrews 4:14-16:

14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4 ESV

It may not be the answer you are looking for in your time of need but it’s actually what we truly need. And you know what’s mind-blowing is that God makes good even of our suffering. He doesn’t waste our weaknesses, but through them he shapes us into the image of Christ. He helps us see life in a whole different way, he teaches us what it means to trust him in the good and bad times. And he helps us see that this world can never be home for us.

When we survey the grand story of our redemption as told by the Bible our personal story makes sense. When we feel let down and failed by God, in the Bible we see God is close and even closer in our struggles. And it’s never a waste of time praying to him because one way or the other he always answers our prayers. Actually he works even when we don’t see it and truly answers our prayers in ways that are best for us. We need the whole Bible story to truly appreciate God working in our personal story.

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The powerful leaders of the world showcase their power by creating big armies, standing behind huge projects and big military investments. One, because they can and also because they’d love everyone else to see what they are capable of. But I think there’s something else that tells them they need to showcase how powerful they are. Perhaps it’s the reality of how fleeting power actually is and the need to enjoy it while it lasts. The big man needs people to see their might and in truth we are all drawn by a true showcase of power. We feel safe with a leader who’s strong and are reassured when we see his big army match infront. Human strength is measured by what we see and the methods at play. Power and wisdom is the true mark of human strength. At times you can even pretend to be powerful if you have the right gadgets. But those who are truly powerful don’t need to always showcase their power.

Our God is truly powerful, he made the heavens and the earth by a word and everything operates by his will. He doesn’t need to lift a finger to make things happen. But when it’s been appropriate to do so he’s proved to be able move mountains, to stop giants and change the course of history. The Bible story tells of a powerful God working for a weak people in impossible situations to save them for himself. So he doesn’t need to showcase his power everytime we demand it. Instead he usually shows his power not by a great show of might but mostly through seemingly weak methods. Here are 3 most powerful methods he uses which from a human eye looks so weak and ineffecctive: the cross, the Gospel and prayer.

The Cross
Think about the cross of Jesus. Nothing shows more weakness than the son of God dying on a wooden cross like a criminal. Actually that’s like the worst thing that can happen to someone who claims to be God’s son and the Lord of the world. Which powerful leader of the world would let his son suffer let alone die if they could rescue them? Humanly speaking you’d doubt the power of this God to help you if he couldn’t save his own child when he needed him most. But the Bible tells us it’s through this weakness that our salvation was born. God used weakness to showcase his greatest power and might at the cross. The power to deal with sin, to defeat Satan, the world and death. At the very center of the story of redemption, the very heart of human history is the weak sign of the cross.

But when it looked most weak, Jesus paid the ransom for our sins and won our eternal salvation. At the cross of Jesus we see God’s power most manifested. In Christ, a man deserted, denied and betrayed by his own is our victory won. At his death our penalty of sin is paid fully. And by his resurrection we are given hope for eternal life as Christ emerges as the firstborn in the new everlasting life. God used what looked so humanly weak for the most powerful act in history. He didn’t bulldoze his way but in weakness he did what seemed impossible. He didn’t call down angels to come showcase his might and force his way. Instead, he sent a man born in weakness to achieve the greatest act of redemption. The weak sign of the cross is the signature of the powerful God of the universe and the message we proclaim.

22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

1 Corinthians 1 NIV.

The Gospel
If you wanted the world to trust in your power and truly fear you you’d never go the Gospel way. I mean what would a bunch of weak disciples who’ve proved to fail so many times accomplish? Jesus wasn’t only entrusting the most important mission of the world to sinful men, he entrusted it to the most unlikely candidates. You ask any expert and that’s a mission bound to fail from the word go. And yet he continues to do so today using preachers and Gospel workers most of whom are uneducated, unqualified, weak and sinful. Why? Because they are just vessels for his life-changing message. It’s him and his word that does the work not them.

When this seemingly weak message takes hold of men it makes them do the impossible. Nothing changes people like the Gospel. Just look at the story of the 12 and see what God did through their witness of the Gospel. Through this message God is winning the world to himself and he’s been doing so all through history. It doesn’t always feel like it’s achieving much, sometimes we actually try to change and re-adapt it but when clearly taught the Gospel does the impossible. God works in unlikely ways, through weak unlikely people with a message that causes more offence than admiration to rescue humanity. I mean it’s a miracle that anyone would be willing to give up everything for the Gospel. But the Gospel captures, captivates and transforms unlikely people to believe and do unlikely things for God. Because the Gospel is God’s power and God at work. 

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.

Romans 1 NIV.

Prayer
One of the main reasons why we struggle so much with prayer is because humanly speaking it’s a very weak strategy. Here I am facing an impossible situation and someone has the audacity to say pray about it? Your friend is ailing in hospital and all you can do is pray? Here’s a deal of a lifetime and first thing you want to do is pray? It doesn’t even sound like a strategy it speaks more of lacking in options and of last resort. And yet there’s nothing more powerful for a believer than to commit themselves in the hands of the Almighty. The history of faith shows God working by prayer to achieve great milestones for the Gospel and intervening in impossible situations for his people.

When God’s people pray they are not saying we have no other option. Actually it’s by prayer that we open our options and access real help from our very able Father. Prayer says I can’t do it but I trust in the one who’s not only able but is available and willing to help us. Praying is calling in the big guns to come to our aid in a war we would otherwise never win on our own. Though seemingly weak, believers have never been able to achieve anything without prayer because without God we can do nothing. Any real Gospel progress has been born of God working through weak people by weak methods like the Gospel and prayer. That’s why we should commit fully to the ministry of the cross, the work of the Gospel by the power of prayer. Because the ministry of word and prayer is the power of God at work. 

1 I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. 2 Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.

Psalms 116 NIV.

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There’s a saying that religion is the opium of the masses and where there’s great suffering and want, where reality is too cruel it seems people are most religious. In many ways our African continent can be described in those terms though not exclusively. We have always been a notoriously religious people and it doesn’t surprise many that we are the next global center of world Christianity. We’ve got the numbers and enough problems to run to any helping hand out there. But I don’t think this is necessary true of Christianity. No, here we have something completely different and the laws of demand and supply move in the opposite direction compared to our many other religions.

You see our African traditional religion and many religions of the world can be called the opium of the people because it’s people who seek and search for this drug. It’s the people who create the demand and religion supplies where no one else seems to have an answer.  It’s the people who ran and cry for help and turn to these gods in dire need. They are people driven and they changed as the needs of the people change because they have to keep up with the market. Our tribes turned to the gods in times of calamity, they sought them in famine and war. They kept them pleased as a guarantee for help in the day of trouble. They were an emergency fund, an investment in an uncertain future and the go-to where man’s strength failed. Man looked for the gods, kept them happy in the ways he knew how and went to withdraw favor when need arose.

It’s for this reason that I think the Christian God is so different. Because in the Bible we see it is God not man who made the first move. Here the direction of flow is completely different. Man is not trying to run after a rather indifferent powerful being to come to his aid. No man is running in the opposite direction and is the one who is indifferent, unconcerned and wouldn’t care less about this God. But he runs like a father towards his prodigal child and this time they don’t meet halfway rather he pursues him to the farthest end. Sure, our African need means we are open to any god out there who can help us. And yes for the most part we think this God is no different but when we look at him we realize he’s not a god we would run after in a million years. Actually he says he’s the one who does the running after.

In Genesis we find him as the God who seeks and calls Abraham and in Exodus he goes after Israel in Egypt. Now here as Africans we would think it is Israel who goes after God. They are facing pain and oppression and they cry out to the so called God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They do it for a long time and finally it wakes this sleeping God to remember his promise. In truth, we are not told which god they called out to only that like us they cried for help and were ready for help from anywhere really. But it was God, as he had promised Abraham who intervenes.  

23 During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.

I think they were open for help from any god perhaps even the gods of Egypt. But it is God who steps in to rescue them and fulfil his Abrahamic promise. Actually if you look closely you realize God was already pulling the strings. He’s the one who increases them in Egypt and the one who preserves them despite all the plots of Pharaoh to cut out their name. It’s God who calls Moses. It’s God who fights Pharaoh for them. It’s God who carries them to Canaan even when most times they want to go back. And this story of a seeking God is repeated a lot of times in the wilderness and in the Promised Land under the Judges. Israel cries and God comes running to save a people who are not really after him and who don’t actually regard his Word and warnings. Israel like Africans want a God who helps when needed but a God who plays by our terms. They want a god they can manipulate to play by their tune. Help them in need but for the most part let them live their lives the way they want. But not so with this God. He’s a fatherly kind of God. He wants to be involved in the lives of his people.

This God seems too emotionally invested for us Africans to entertain. As an African man we can even say he’s a weak man. A true man has got to be powerful yes but also aloof and a bit distant to gain his respect. That’s actually how our gods operated. But this one is not like that and he doesn’t want to be treated like the other gods. He won’t accept just a cash in worship for a cash out favor when we need it. He demands everything and wants to be involved in everything. He talks about eternal life when we are just wondering where our next meal will come from. He says we face a greater problem than poverty, diseases and insecurity? And he says that problem is sin? He’s got to be kidding us. We don’t want that kind of God. He’s too close and too invested for us. And he doesn’t really offer us what the other market gods supply. Yes we want his help but we also want it in our own terms, that’s the tradeoff with any religion. But not with this one though, he says we have to play in his own terms because that’s what is good for us.

If religion is the opium of the masses this God won’t be getting as many customers. He doesn’t fit the bill and doesn’t play by the rules. But it is especially that he’s different that he is exactly what we need. Africa’s greatest problems might be perceived to be hunger, bad leadership, unemployment, corruption, insecurity and a bad history. But all of these are but symptoms of a greater problem that none of our gods have answered. Yes these are real symptoms and shouldn’t be undermined but if we really want a cure we’ve got to go to the root of the problem. And that’s the biggest problem that faces not only Africans but all of humanity throughout history. The heart of the problem is the human heart, See Mark 7:20-23. It’s sin that corrupts our world at the very core. And that problem won’t be solved by education, foreign aid, humanitarian projects or even religion. They help our society but won’t ultimately solve this problem. Only the seeking God of the Bible has an answer for man and with this a solution for Africa and the world at large.

That seeking God comes to a continent that trades with human gods. He calls out a people notoriously religious to the true light of the world. He begs the attention of a people lost in want, addiction and hopelessness and says here is the way. Here’s one who comes to seek and save the lost. Here’s a God who loves mother Africa and has come to save her and her children. He’s heard her cry and stepped in like he did with Israel in the person of Jesus Christ to offer her hope for the future. He deals with Africa’s entrenched problem of sin and liberates her from being the Dark Continent. Here’s a God we should all run to because unlike all our other gods this one runs towards us. This one deals not only with what we think is our problem but with the very heart of it and in him offers us the hope we crave for and that for eternity. Africa has a new God and he’s the seeking God of the Bible.

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