Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What's there to celebrate?

Sometimes God saves, sometimes not. So what's the point?

I'm stuck on the problem of evil, and I have been for a while. (As evidenced by these posts: The Bible Is Less Naive Than Me, Why I Don't Trust God, Why I Can't Pray Like That, Greater Faith, A Prayer I Don't Even Believe.)

I believe in God and Jesus and the resurrection and all that, but... so what? What difference does it make, if God doesn't stop bad things from happening to his children? Why would I even want to associate with a God like that?

I dream about how someday, finally, God will make everything right. And there will be justice. Come Lord Jesus. But right now, in the present... well? What's the point of God?

"Then what is the point of you?" Image source.

But this week, reading Psalm 68, with the imagery and all the people singing in celebration, I want that. I want to celebrate God again.

"...Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
    extol him who rides on the clouds
    rejoice before him- his name is the Lord.

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling. ...
When you, God, went out before your people,

    when you marched through the wilderness,
the earth shook, the heavens poured down rain,
    before God, the One of Sinai,
    before God, the God of Israel. ...
The chariots of God are tens of thousands
    and thousands of thousands;
    the Lord has come from Sinai into his sanctuary.
Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
    who daily bears our burdens.
Our God is a God who saves;
    from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death. ...
Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth,
    sing praise to the Lord,
to him who rides across the highest heavens, the ancient heavens,
    who thunders with mighty voice.
Proclaim the power of God,
    whose majesty is over Israel,
    whose power is in the heavens.
You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary;
    the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.
Praise be to God!"

A big, loud psalm. A crazy celebration. Proclaiming God's power and majesty and victories. Every nation overflowing with songs of praise.


I want to feel that. I want to celebrate too. But still I'm stuck on this question- what is there to celebrate?

Something. There must be something. I have faith that there's something. Slowly I'll get there. And I want to find God again, in China.

In China, every week I go to church. This is a city with millions of people, and there are only a few churches, maybe 5 or 10. And the whole place is totally packed.

I guess you don't really "shop around" for a church.

Everything's in Chinese. There's a lot I understand and a lot I don't understand, but I like it that way- it's a challenge, and gradually I'll understand more. Some simple words jump out at me- pray, praise, thanks, God, brothers and sisters, love, father.

We pray, we sing from the hymnal, we read the bible, we listen to the sermon. And every week, at the end of the service, we all say the Lord's prayer together. I don't have it memorized in Chinese yet, so I just listen as everyone around me is saying "your kingdom come, your will be done" in Mandarin. I understand most of it, God understands all of it.

I'll find God here in China. At church and in my daily life.

And one could ask, wait a second, this is a church that's allowed by the Chinese government. So is it "really" Christian? But I'm not in a place to criticize. I'm just finding God, little by little, and yes, I can find him in the government-approved Chinese church.

Maybe I'm starting from scratch. I'll learn how to be a Christian all over again, this time in Chinese.

And then I'll know what there is to celebrate.


This post is part of a link-up on the topic of Psalm 68. To read other people's posts, click here: Engaging with Scripture in the midst of life.

1 comment:

  1. I love how you are honest with your struggles. I think this is really hard--the whole problem of evil and what there is/isn't to celebrate. When I get feeling to weighted down by all this, I skip to the end and read some of the Revelation passages about a new heaven and earth and sort of remind myself to claim the promise of what's to come, even when I'm not feeling it/seeing it now. That doesn't answer questions or anything, but does help me kind of out of the quagmire. I like how your desire for the community and that worship all together encouraged you this week, and love hearing about the Chinese church!