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14 Nov 2014

The God of the ‘Gaps’

It makes sense to write on this topic, especially after the passing on of a great teacher and mentor, Dr. Myles Munroe. I kept wondering why God had to allow such a great figure of faith to leave us too soon, especially now the Church is been attacked left, right and center. We need Dr. Munroe to speak and stand for God’s kingdom principles in this last edge of humanity.

As many of you did, I try to find meaning as to why God would allow him to die in such a brutal manner. Little but wonder what is left of his lynched body. As I reflect on the incident of brother Myles’ departure, I can only say the God of the gaps best knows the answers.

The quest to comprehend the meaning of life probes into the very fabric of our being human. Finding meaning to our disappointment and agony is a common yoke we all share. Perhaps we need such explanation to grasp the nature of our daily existence in order to determine the quality of our behavior and response in times of emotional distress. More so, our inability to come to terms with our helplessness also challenges what we believe about God, and questions our reasons for faith.

As we walk through the dark shadows of life, the very question of meaning is critical and a burning one to fill the gapsof desperation. However, if we merely succeed to come to grips with the meaning of our existence and perhaps discover purpose, the very draining one is, the theistic ‘God of the gaps’.  Why would God allow us to experience life this way? Why would God allow Dr. Myles Munroe die in a plane crash accident? Why would God allow this to happen? Why would God do this and why did He do that?

However relevant is the meaning question, don’t you think posing such questions shows a merely subtle disguise for power over a possible ‘future shock’? Isn’t it an indication that you would rather wish to be your own God? Perhaps a search for control, safety, and certainty and a mere human quest for guarantee against any future danger.

You are just a victim of a deep-seated anxiety.

Within the context of a depleting ego and cultural challenges, the meaning question has become a burning issue. You often ask, “Towards what kind of life am I heading?” A thorough investigation about the undergirding issues within your quest for meaning may suggest a craving for immortality and material wealth.

Really, is this the kind of meaning a Christian should seek? Perhaps the real danger here is the fact that your quest for meaning is only a deep longing for human power and control. As for me the real question as stake here is, are we willing to deal with our deep-seated issues and the need for us to unify a life that will safeguard our human dignity and foster the life we want?

If you are with me on this, please keep reading.

In the face of the conflicting global crisis and the passing of a God’s General, can we maintain a positive God-image and an understanding of God’s love that satisfy our daily expectations, and deal with the misery of not knowing? What if God and the ‘God of the gaps’ found answers to solve the human question you think life would be much better?

Clearly, we are caught up within the confines of a paradox that clearly intensifies the meaning question. In 1997, Venter contends that the real problem is that we have not resolved the paradox about things getting better and worst, all at the same time. Such paradox confuses us, and thus we are plunged into a never-ending seizure of future uncertainty. This freaks us out! Such anxiety makes the present such an unsettling experience. It is disturbing to me as well. Besides, if you cannot make your life work, what hope do you have?

Surely, our future does not lie in the magic of economic growth nor in the passing of someone, we love. I think we should rather ask the question of humanity, identity and the significance of our Christian faith and the mission of God in order to come to terms with the most basic meaningof our experience and existence; perhaps our doubts, despair, and anxiety.

What does the ‘God of the gaps’ really say about our matter? How do we understand God within the context of pain, disappointment, and our human quest for meaning? Does God have the luxury of time to comfort the afflicted and at the same time afflict the comfortable? Indeed, such question does in fact influence how we understand and relate with God.

Whilst some regardless of the situation perceive God as loving, a friend, and companion for life even in their human predicament and misery, others have written a whole thesis on God’s injustice in their hearts, hence, imaging God as indifferent to the human experience and as an abuser of power.

Scores of researchers often associate this anxiety and experience to the effects of early-child upbringing, culture, context, and secularization. Regardless, within the context of Christ’s suffering on the cross, we cannot deny the fact that life’s predicament and shock, and its association with evil is a core of the Christian experience, and the problem for most Christians.

I have no straightforward answers on the event that led to Dr. Munroe’s death or the issues you are presently facing, but only a suggestion of what could possibly be.

Maybe the intent of our search for meaning is to open us up to the transience of being human. Given that, the quest for making meaning out of life’s predicament reveals our own human reality as well as God’s vulnerability.

This is the fact of human existence. Those unfair experiences are uniquely beautiful for its purpose. To make sense of them, we must have the ability to interpret and understand them. Therefore, in order to live meaningfully in the face of despair and uncertainties, I invite you to a world of metaphors and symbols that will help you endure the process of finding meaning to your agony as you learn to accept life the way it presents itself and as we encouragingly, even though despairing, match onwards to transformation.

After several years of research on suffering, Daniel Louw concludes his work, saying, “Suffering is a lack of vocabulary to interpret”. When we fail to provide vocabs to grasp the nature of our agony or disappointment, such experience torments the stock of our soul and soon migrates to the question of the ‘God of the gaps’.

Frustration sets in where our human power fails to manage and to comprehend our ordeal. Anxiety sets in when we exhaust our ability to cope with and make sense of our life’s conditions.

For a start, we start by having the right vocabularies to relate our agony to the God’s order, especially when our insight to come to grips with the situation becomes clearly inadequate and meaningful to the present experience. Promissory vocabs that have the transformative, eternal power to confront our fears with the effect of God’s love are what we need for a start.

Anxiety is a failure to come to grips with our conditions of hopelessness and with the limits of our human ability.

If you cannot describe why you are passing through what you are passing through using meaningful, eternal words of life from God’s Word, then you are giving the devil a foothold to crush you. An understanding of God’s position on this matter, shows us that our painful existential experience is simply a transformation process for growth, because all things work together for good to those that love God and have been called according to his purpose​ (Rom 8:28).

Therefore, let us start with this line of metaphor, knowing that in spite of our situation, we are confident that we can “trust our life to a faithful Creator” (1 Pet. 4:19), because “He is with us as a Mighty awesome One” (Jer. 20:11), and is a “friend closer than a brother”.

I will leave it to you to interpret for yourself and find other meaningful tonics from God’s Word that will help you to relate to your experience more meaningfully in light of God’s order and mission. As the people of God in mission, I am quite confident that the Holy writ provides us with countless meaningful therapeutic and liberative words that give meaning to our state of situatedness.

Find the right vocab and give yourexistence ameaning it deserves, because in finding meaning to our experience, we are comforted.

3 Responses

  1. hi shawn, your article is very intsereting. You know it also helps me be motivated with my road to success. Words are just so simple yet its like a sword that penetrates my ineer being to keep me going and focus on my dreams. Great thanks for that! Take care always! God bless u!

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