How Does God Stomach The Headlines?
Let’s see—at the time of this writing the Cubs are down 0-3, Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama have flying aces bumping into each other over Syria, down on the ground Palestinians and Israelis are at it once again, half a world away North and South Korean families are reunited after being separated for 65 years since the Korean War, Wall Street is keeping its fingers crossed about any significant upsurge in the stock market before the end of the year, the latest rumor for the Vatican to squash is about the Pope having a small brain tumor, though the press has tired of reporting the immigration hemorrhage into Europe from the Middle East it still flows unabated, autumn is turning glorious here in the St. Joseph River valley, and did I mention the Cubs?
Life is filled with stuff we simply get used to, isn’t it? And when a little four-year-old girl is caught in the deadly cross-fire of two cars dueling it out in a tragic case of road rage in Albuquerque, we pause, catch our breath over the stab of sorrow for so short a life snuffed out so insanely. And we go on. Because life does just that. Goes on.
Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? How does God handle the headlines? Think about it—He’s the only One in the universe that has to live with them all, all the time, night and day, forever now it seems (to us at least). Poor God. How sad He can’t quietly dismiss or callously forget the way we humans do. Instead He remembers. It all. All the time.
And what’s even more astonishing is that God not only monitors our stories, He monitors the story of every life form that exists. “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?” Jesus asked. “Yet not one of them is forgotten by God” (Luke 12:6). And not only does He monitor, He cares. “Yet not one of [those sparrows] will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care” (Matthew 10:29).
In John Peckham’s very new book (Peckham teaches at the theological seminary here at Andrews University), The Love of God: A Canonical Model (InterVarsity Press), he offers up this lengthy definition of God’s love: “At the risk of oversimplification, God’s love is virtuous, kind, generous, unmerited, voluntary, faithfully devoted, evaluative, profoundly affectionate and compassionate, intensely passionate, patient and longsuffering, merciful, gracious, just, steadfast, amazingly reliable and enduring but not unalterably constant, preferential but not arbitrarily exclusive, relationally responsive, desirous of reciprocation, and active” (65).
It takes a lot of words to define the love that courses through the heart of the Creator of this universe, doesn’t it? A universe, and particularly a planet now held hostage by a sin-crazed rebel angel. Whose insane hatred of all that is divine or even reflective of the divine spews forth the headlines we’ve grown dangerously accustomed to of late. Even in Lucifer’s backyard, God is still love.
Which means that “not a sigh is breathed, not a pain felt, not a grief pierces the soul, but the throb vibrates to the Father’s heart” (Desire of Ages 356).
Or as the ancient prophet expressed it, “In all our affliction He is afflicted” (see Isaiah 63:9). Love feels the pain.
Divine love. As Peckham described it, “profoundly affectionate and compassionate, intensely passionate, patient and longsuffering . . . and active.” God’s love. For you. For me. For Putin and Obama. For the reunited families. For the four-year-old’s heart-broken parents. For disappointed Cub fans. For the tiny brown sparrows.
“God is love” (1 John 4:8).
Turns out it’s the only headline that lasts.