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February 12, 2011

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bittersweet might be too loose of a word for describing the angst that occurs in knowing that the most beautiful of things and the most horrific of things can happen simultaneously in the same city. or block. or parking lot. or wherever.

I'm super glad you were there for both instances. I just keep trusting that He keeps using little people like us to bring the heartbeat of Jesus to protect the heartbeat of others.

Beautiful post. But so very sad. These are the things that shake my faith in a good God. Did the Psalmists ever direcly question God's goodness? I can't recall any instances. If I were writing psalms now, I think this would be a recurring topic for me.

Karen, "Little people." I like that. We are all little people with little theologies and little pracitices of the kingdom. How great it would be if we would stop this constant quest to be big and great and cutting-edge, and just focus on seeing what God is placing in front of us in little ways everyday. Good thoughts. -Tim

Linda, one of the reasons I love the Psalms so much is the liberty that these ancient prayers bring. In the Psalter I am given permission to doubt, plead, and disagree with God. The psalms are unique because they are humanity's best attempt using human expressions and human metaphors to engage God directly. Oddly, what leaves me most hopeful in my pain and anxiety is that the largest category of Psalms is "lament." Amazing! Why do we not practice lament in the church? The Hebrews did. Many of the psalms were written in captivity after the temple had been destroyed and Jerusalem was devastated, amidst suffering, chaos and injustice. Thus, the poet cries, "My soul is in deep anguish. How long, LORD, how long?" (Ps 6) and "How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever?" (Ps 13). And, too, the psalmist accuses God of not acting in timely and just ways on behalf of the poor (Ps 94). The psalmist is very nearly cussing God out. The Hebrew poets accuse God of withholding his goodness and infer that evil prospers because he does not act. And God doesn't smite the author down for doubt. He doesn’t censor the psalmist’s contentious accusations. This is the good news for us questioners, doubters and contenders. I often tell people to scream, yell and accuse him. God can take it. There is something that is far worse than doubting God—not talking to him at all. Thanks so much for the comment. Please write some Psalms and share them with us. Bono did! (See "Wake Up Deadman" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6vNQf_tne0)

I am reminded of the times when Jesus was in Gethsemane and praying, with great sorrow and lament, if God could possibly pass this purpose to someone else because of all the pain He was feeling at that moment - as long as it's what God would want (Luke 22:42-44).

As human beings, we see many grave injustices all the time. Of course, the worst part is when you witness it and feel like there's nothing you can do about it, for any multitude of reasons. As a personal instance, when I was in Iraq, that's what opened the doors to me later developing PTSD, is feeling unable to stop the chaos around me.

There is a part of your story to me that I think is really important to get, also tying into your "God In The Neighborhood" projects currently in effect. There is a gambit in the tracklist of No Line On The Horizon that I love: Moment Of Surrender - Unknown Caller - I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight - Get On Your Boots. It's a movement from communicating honest sorrow and allowing all kinds of release, to God communicating, to letting God communicate through you, until finally you act.

In the situation you described, you saw this couple neglecting the safety of their own newborn child. Two other children were neglected without food on their tables at home. And we naturally ask God like the character in the song Moment of Surrender,"What exactly is going on, where are you Lord? These people need You, I need You - give me vision over this visible suffering I see!" We fall on our knees trying to find those answers, maybe trying to pass that cup, wishing to take up those pains for those people or wondering where God is to stop it.

But the really special part is when God calls us up, as in Unknown Caller. Even in our own suffering or watching others suffer, we're occasionally contacted and led by God for a purpose (just FYI, I've never had text messages from God...although I wouldn't mind. =D), asked to "shout it out, rise up!"

And I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight, and Get On Your Boots to me in relation to the previous two songs, is about taking that encouragement from God, and acting - "Listen for me, I'll be shouting, we're gonna make it all the way to the light
but you know I'll go crazy if I don't go crazy tonight," or simply "LET ME IN THE SOUND!"

Here I'm pretty much arguing that sometimes, expressing lament allows us to show our reverence and trust with God, that we want to be honest and be faithful in coming to Him with these supplications - and also sometimes, He responds to our lament with an expectation for us to do something. Just when Jesus asked God,"If it's possible, pass this job to someone else...but not what I want, what do you want?" and the answer was,"You've got to do it, Son," and it was so. And sometimes, all this happens in a single instant, and we're left in a single flash of time finding ourselves with God acting and speaking through us without even realizing it.

So, as in the title for this blog entry, where was God at Panda Express? Well...who was yelling trying to get that couple to think of their own child, calling out to stop that terrible situation? And who helped out those kids who were in need at the time, as their bellies ached with hunger and wondering if there would ever be food for that single night? For all intents and purposes, God was there - and He was working through you, Tim.

Don't worry about the couple not listening, realizing what they were doing, and simply losing their minds in the middle of a public place. Remember,"No one is blinder than he who will not see."

God bless! (PS I'd post one of my own Psalms but this comment has already went overboard with space!)


JP, very well stated. I think you have a good sense of how God works in this world -- through us! Yes, you and I are both the hands and feet and voices of Jesus. Thanks for the testimony about the songs from NLOTH. Check this older post out for my experience with "Moment," "Unknown," and "Crazy": http://timneufeld.blogs.com/occasio/2009/09/my-ego-is-not-the-enemy-or-why-i-havent-blogged-in-four-months.html
Thanks for the comment. -Tim

People deserve wealthy life time and loan or just bank loan will make it much better. Just because people's freedom is grounded on money.

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