“Why doesn’t God intervene?”
It’s a question that those who believe and those who don’t believe in God tend to ask when we see injustice done. Afterall, being made in the image of God means we have an innate sense of justice wired inside of us. When we see the anger, hatred, protests and senseless violence in cities across the country we ask, “why doesn’t God intervene?” When a loved one loses a battle with cancer we ask, “why doesn’t God intervene?” When a young couple excitedly awaits the birth of their child only to find out in disbelief that the child has died we ask, “why doesn’t God intervene?” When life isn’t working out according to our plans and dreams we ask, “why doesn’t God intervene?”
We ask “why” as a natural reaction to a circumstance we didn’t expect, ask for or desire. Those who don’t believe in God have no where else to turn so they ask it too. They say, “if there is a God, why doesn’t He do something?” Then they believe they know more than God about the situation and determine that since God doesn’t respond as they would there is obviously not a God for them to trust as if God would think and act like them. Would that be a God they’d want? But, when the question mark is placed, they are still left with the circumstances that raised their doubt initially. A non-belief in God doesn’t give them any comfort, just a self-justified reason to disbelieve. But, there is no hope that the next time a seeming injustice is at hand, there will ever be an answer to their question, “why doesn’t someone do something and intervene?”
For those who believe in God, the question comes just as swiftly into our hearts and minds, “Why God?” Why me? Why now? Why them? Though theologically we can discuss the validity of the question and if a Christ-one should ask “why”, let’s face it…we do. David did in the Psalms. I think the question of “why” for the Believer is a bit of the Imago Dei within us feeling the pain and loss of a sinful world that was not what God originally intended. Yet, the difference for a follower of Christ is that when we get to the end or at least through the fog of our grief, anger and even hateful attitude, we have an answer to the question of “Why?” God DID intervene. Christmas is a story of intervention.
When God created the earth and everything in it, including mankind, He was there. Adam and Eve could talk to God like you and I could talk over a coffee at Starbucks. Maybe the weight of the conversation may have been different but you get the point. God was there. Present. Then, as man sinned and banished God from his life God intervened periodically to reveal His power and love for them (see stories of donkeys talking, dry bones rattling and becoming alive and a burning bush speaking to Moses as just a few examples of how God intervened). Man still spurned God. His own people turned against Him. And after 1000s of years God went silent. After Malachi’s prophetic words 400 years passed until it happened. God intervened, again. This time in a most miraculous way. As one of us but not like one of us. A baby born flesh and blood but without the internal sin that would separate Him from God. A divinely perfect baby born to an imperfect couple. God intervened.
That’s what we celebrate this week. We celebrate that in the midst of protests, unexplained shootings of those we love, vitriolic words slung about that are meant to harm, and the daily pain experienced in loss and grief, God intervened. Jesus Christ came. He didn’t come as the conquering hero they thought they would be getting. Instead, he gave up his position to become a helpless, innocent baby. God intervened in a unique way.
When we wonder why doesn’t God intervene, Christmas is a reminder that He already has. And, the historical account of that baby’s life ending in a death and witnessed resurrection reminds us that He continues to intervene until one day the FINAL intervention will occur. A day when all of the injustices experienced in the lives of everyone who has or ever will inhabit earth will be accounted and remedied for all time. That’s Christmas. An intervention of God-sized proportion in the smallest human form imagineable.