We live in confusing times. Many of us find the Covid restrictions terribly hard. At one point, psychologists were saying that we are in lockdown fatigue. Others are quite disturbed by the many disasters in our world, the earthquakes and the damaging bushfires and floods. Where is God in these times?
Elie Wiesel tells the story of a cruel hanging of a young child in a Jewish concentration camp, that all camp residents were obliged to witness. As they watched the child hanging, dying on the gallows, a loud voice from the crowd called out, ‘Where is God now?’ Wiesel recounts that his response came from deep within himself: ‘God is hanging on those gallows.’ Wiesel is saying that in some sense God suffers with us, God grieves, God dislikes the loss of human life as much as we do.
We used to see hope as looking ahead to some future attainment. As though everything will turn out ok eventually. Rather, I believe that God’s promise of future happiness in some place called heaven does not ignore God’s presence and God’s care for us in this present time. God is with us right now.
I think we are given little reminders of this: the cheery wave of the old fellow as we pass on our daily walk, my pharmacist’s insistence that she deliver my medications during lockdown, the caring emails and text messages from friends to assure me that they do not forget. God’s love shines through these people and reminds me that we are not abandoned. This is not to deny the hard times, but I believe that these little gifts – and I’m sure there are more that I have failed to notice – are God’s way of reminding us that God is still with us, always loving.
I think now that hope is more about such present experiences of God’s ever-present love than about some future promise.