Over the last several weeks, as people across the world have started to be impacted by Covid-19, I’ve found myself thinking that for us as a family, many of the challenges confronting people are what we have been living with and wrestling with for some time.

Let me explain.

I remember in October 2013, when we were given the news that my daughter, Immy, had brain cancer, and going into a form of shock for several months. At different times since then, when we have received horrible news about Immy, I’ve again experienced a similar sense of shock.

When we received that news in 2013, our world was shattered. Much of what we took for granted was gone; we are utterly helpless as parents; we were confronted with the mortality of our child; we felt abandoned by God; we felt disoriented as our world was forever changed; we silently screamed at whoever was listening "WHY US?!?"; our sense of fairness was challenged – we’re good people – we don’t deserve this!.

As a parent who had prayed nightly that God would protect my children, clearly God didn’t protect Immy. He failed us, let us down, didn’t care, or was punishing us. Maybe he was a malicious God, OR, maybe my understanding of him was being challenged to its core.

I won’t pretend to have answers to many of the questions we are all confronting now and into the future. I do want to offer some of my own learnings, reflections, encouragements – as well as questions.

I had to acknowledge, name and confront my image of God as being ‘there for me’, and that if I did certain things, he would look after me and my family. Kinda like seeing God as a ‘genie in a bottle,’ a transactional god: If I live a good life, pray, treat people right, read my bible, then God will do the right thing by me. If I do this, then God will do that, and I can cherry pick bible verses out of their context to support this.

Over time I’ve had to allow my understanding of God to be challenged, partially deconstructed, and then slowly rebuilt. As it’s been rebuilt, it’s stronger, but full of tension. I’m more certain of God, but I have many more questions than ever. I realise that God doesn’t fit into my little world – I fit into His.

I try to read scripture, not through the lens of my/our current challenges, but through the lens of a much bigger story than mine – in light of His ultimate plan to one day ‘make all things new.’

I’m not sure if sharing this is helpful. I hope it is in some small way as you (possibly) ask similar questions.

Adrian Blenkinsop

Australian father

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