While some may have found this to be a timely reminder to trust God, others pointed out this Christian cliché isn’t necessarily helpful. Expressing disappointment or anger at an election result is not the same as doubting God’s omnipotence.
Besides, what do we mean by the phrase “God is in control”? God was in control throughout the 20th century, but he didn’t prevent two world wars. I’m not saying that Trump could cause another major conflict (although some are!) but just because God is in control, it doesn’t mean we’re guaranteed a quiet life free from suffering.
Scripture teaches us that God is in control and that bad things happen. In this month’s Real Life (p18), we tell the story of Jessica Kelley who was forced to ask the question, “Did God give my 4-year-old son brain cancer?” Her explanation of why God allows suffering has helped many Christians already. Whether you agree with where she lands theologically or not, her heartbreaking story deserves to be read.
I’m always inspired by people like Jessica who cling to God throughout their trials. When things look bleak, it can be so hard to trust that God knows what he’s doing.
As we enter the Christmas period, I’m mindful of how our questions about God’s apparent absence are not new. Two thousand years ago, the Jewish people were living under Roman occupation, with no sign of their long-promised Messiah. They must have asked, “Where are you, God?”
This month, we will all celebrate how this question was answered in the birth of Jesus. We’ll remember how God came to our collective rescue. This is summed up in one of my favourite Wesleyan hymns:
Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee. Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art; dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.
This Christmas I hope you’ll be inspired by our cover story (p28) which includes loads of ideas on how we can make the true meaning of Christmas known. Now is the time to speak about the hope we have – not just in a God who saves but in a God who is intimately involved in our lives and walks with us through our pain. It’s what the incarnation is all about: Emmanuel – God with us.
From all of us here at Premier Christianity magazine, have a wonderful Christmas. Sam Hailes Deputy editor