As a result, and in a desperate bid to win back some hits from Natalie — who has written the top three most viewed posts in the last month — I want to ask you where you’d like to see things go next. To that end, I’ve set up a poll with some of the themes and trajectories I’ve been thinking might be worth following:
‘To the ends of the earth’ — on trying to re-imagine theology as a specifically missionary activity
‘Like a mother tenderly caring for her children’ — what shape should pastoral care have if it’s to be distinctively Christian?
‘A suit of clothes designed to fit God Himself’ — Israel’s theology of kingship in its Ancient Near Eastern context
Which conversation would you like to participate in?
Exercise your democratic rights and tell me! Voting will close at the end of the week. After that we can launch in the direction you choose.
I don’t know if you’ve occasionally heard people talk about sickness or suffering as a gift from God? You know, something that may not be pleasant or enjoyable but isn’t to be wasted? Usually invoked in support of this are passages like 2 Cor 12.7b-9 (about Paul’s thorn) or the biblical theme of God disciplining his people as dearly loved children.
Now I have some reservations about this (along similar lines to this article by the Bishop of South Sydney). But the point I want to make in this post is that my ongoing experience of sickness over the course of this year — nothing really bad, just persistent and more difficult to shake than previously — has taught me the reverse. It’s helped me see that health itself is a gift.
Maybe I’m starting to shake off my youthful illusions of invulnerability. Or maybe I’ve been given a peek behind the way modern Western healthcare contributes to our habit of avoiding honest confrontation with our own limitation and mortality.
Epidemic Prevention by tioguerra, on Flickr
Either way, I’m gradually getting a sense that health is not necessarily the default option. It’s not a natural state to be presumed upon and taken for granted. Rather it is a gift — and like all God’s good gifts it is to be received thankfully, enjoyed humbly and its benefits shared generously…