Hollywood superstar Gal Gadot is expecting. She posted a selfie announcing the news. Gadot is wearing no makeup — and still looks gorgeous. Her handsome husband and beautiful daughters are on either side of Gadot who is slightly showing. Here’s the picture of perfection: Beauty, harmony, bliss, and everything that, most of the time, we are not.
Garrison Keillor is closer to our reality. He tells the story of how his wife and he made the mistake of taking their toddler to a fancy restaurant. Halfway through the meal, the child got sick. Realizing what was happening, Keillor rushed to his daughter just in time to cup his hands as she threw up in them.
You don’t find many selfies of those kinds of moments on social media.
Because we want perfection. We worship success. And we demand of others and of ourselves and of God that life, in the words of Carrie Fischer, not imitate art, but that life be art: The picture of perfection: Beauty, harmony, bliss, and everything that, most of the time, we are not.
We think of heaven and we imagine clouds with God rays of light descending and arched rainbows shining over us as blessings rain down. Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we want it all. We want to know God is in his heaven and we want to see that all’s right with the world, with our loved ones, and with us.
That’s what we want. But this is what we’ve got: We look at our lives and read the news and we know that all is not right. And if — if — God is in his heaven, then we conclude that God’s either an absentee landlord who doesn’t care or an impotent ally who just can’t get the job done.
But what if God already has? What if the God who we want to come someday as a can’t-miss, conquering superhero already has come as an easy-to-miss, crucified, suffering servant? What if God didn’t come to force everything into perfect order, but to simply offer himself in perfect love so we could choose that perfect way? What if that changed everything and we just can’t see it because we’re too busy looking for something else?
The cross looks weak and foolish to us wised-up, post-modern sophisticates. But those who are really in the know, says Paul, can see what we can’t. They see in the cross, in Jesus’ sacrifice, not a loser, but a Savior. Who doesn’t end suffering by banishing it, but who transforms suffering by entering it. Who offers us a way to conquer the world not by domination, but through compassion. Who calls us not to win by being first, but to overcome by being last and putting others first.
Those who are enslaved to the dead-end ways of the world just don’t get it. But those who do find everything they need to live.
What if the God you’re looking for “up there” in heavenly clouds of glory to bless you someday is really the God who is here now in your hellish hours of agony to save you today? Not by “miracling” you out of suffering, but by sustaining you through suffering so you emerge transformed, reborn, resurrected.
Let’s be wise enough to give God the benefit of the doubt: That even in your mess, Christ is with you. That even in this dumpster fire of a world that Christ daily works to heal, bless, and love.
Let’s be wise enough to further discover God’s presence by walking in Christ’s ways: By forgiving, not avenging. By sharing, not hoarding. By demanding not perfection from others or ourselves, but by giving grace, practicing patience, and living love.
As we do, we’ll discover God’s strength through our weakness and Christ’s presence in our pain. We’ll realize that God doesn’t expect us to be supermen and wonder women to earn his love, but that God simply wants us to be humane, humble, good people to receive his grace. Let’s all welcome that gift and live that Resurrection.