Is God a Helpless Parent?

Maisie has been really sick the past few days, and thankfully she’s feeling better now. Two nights ago we had one of the most difficult nights that we’ve had as parents. She had a high fever, headache, and was throwing up…all symptoms that parents don’t like for their little ones to have. We called our doctor and began giving her what he said to give her. It just wasn’t helping instantly like I wanted it to.

But as the night went on she wasn’t getting any better, and I was worrying more and more. We have heard lots of stories lately of kids getting meningitis and Maisie had a few of the symptoms. Not only did we feel a bit helpless about not knowing what to do, there is also the element of us living in a different country and dealing with the reality that we may not even know how to do what we would want to do.

This all added up to one strong feeling that I don’t like having: helplessness.

I mean, I’m supposed to be a father. A protector. And I felt helpless. I just stood there by the bed, probably with my mouth open a bit in confusion and my eyes as big as pancakes, wondering what to do.

It was in this moment that I had the inspiration to write this post.

I wondered, “God, do you ever feel confused like this when looking at your creation when it is in trouble?”

And I realized that I was making one of the most common mistakes that we as people do in the way we related with God. I was projecting my humanity…my broken humanity in this case…onto God. We often have a tendency to think of God as being like a human on one of our best days. But the reality is that God is other-than, and not human. Scripture says that God’s ways are higher than our ways…His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.

To say it another way: we, as humans created in the image of God, have many of the same attributes of God. The ability to create, to love, to forgive, to judge, to discern, to feel sorrow, etc. I heard someone once say: “What God can do infinitely, we can do finitely.” (And I would add…because of our brokenness.)

But the point is that God is not a human. And humans, no matter great we are or may become, are not God. The mystery of the good news of Jesus is that God invites us to join Him in re-creating the world despite the fact that we also carry the potential to harm this world. It is only because of the Spirit of God working in and through us, that our efforts that our good ends up lasting eternally. I know that may sound a bit depressing, or maybe even offensive to some, but I can’t imagine us being able to re-create the world according to God’s ways without God as our sole conductor. An orchestra where each musician tries to play it’s own piece isn’t a beautiful sound. Even if each musician is playing a beautiful piece. The musicians need to look to a conductor in order to stay in harmony with one another.

This post has become classically tangential…

So, what I’m wanting to say, hopeful briefly, is that God doesn’t stand by the bedside of our problems like a young father wondering what to do. God is both before our worries and after our victories. We can draw peace and confidence from Him. He is both other than and near. And invites us to learn from him so our lives can find harmony…both with Him and the world around us that he invites us to restore with Him.

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  1. Troy on March 17, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Really like this line, Justin:

    “God is both before our worries and after our victories.”

    Nice post, great thoughts, friend.

    Grace and peace,

  2. PC on March 17, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Thank you for this reminder, friend. Frequently I am catching myself projecting my pallid humanity onto God. Most, if not all, of our frustrations with God (whether you be a follower of Christ or NOT) are due to this projection.

  3. Christine on March 21, 2011 at 1:08 am

    possibly one of your best and most thought provoking posts ever, justin. it goes deep down into the heart of a parent’s love for their child, and i agree with troy. the line that God is before our worries and after our victories is deep…that and He is the conductor of our lives, pulling every ‘player’ into tune. so tangibly observable. thanks again, for taking the time in your own pain of watching maisie suffer, to bring clarity to those of us ‘three’ readers :).

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