The name given to my hope, is Immanuel.
Which is translated from the Hebrew tradition: "God is with us."
Have you ever, in the midst of a ferocious storm, searched for the calming touch of the One who can quiet the winds and silence the waves? And in your calling out, found no answer?
Well, I have. And it has messed with my theology.
I worship the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I celebrate His promise that He will never leave me forsaken or alone. I have encouraged my friends to trust the nearness of the Abba Father in the struggle of loneliness. After all, the Scriptures insist that He is close to the brokenhearted.
But if I were to be really honest, I have screamed out for his help; the waves have overcome me, and in my sinking, I am reaching. reaching. reaching.
And there have been times when there was no answer. Heaven was silent. Immanuel seemed to have been a nice flannel-graph Christmas story, about as real as reindeer and rooftops.
In my agony, my faith wilted. In heaven's coldness, my hope grew weary. In transcendent distance, God seemed to be an amnesiac, bi-polar mystery, with multiple personalities. Even His own autobiographical confessions articulate His paradox. Which is it, is He near or far, immanent or distant? Has He predetermined all things, or has He left certain elements of human freedom open for our choosing? Is He the Abba "Daddy" Father, or is He the Holy Terror?
When I read about the cruel suffering of the innocent, cosmic earthquakes, tsunamis that wipe out thousands of small children, and 4 million women and children forced into human sexual trafficking, I can't help but to wonder: Where is Immanuel? Where is this Divine Presence who has promised to be with us in the struggle?
I am learning to embrace the absent presence of the Resurrected Christ. I am learning how to pray differently; to ask for the Kingdom of Mercy to invade this hurting world. I am attempting to be content in the mystery of His paradox.