POPE Benedict XVI admitted it sometimes felt as if ‘God was asleep’ during the troubled days of his papacy as he gave an emotional farewell in St Peter’s Square before tens of thousands of pilgrims on the eve of his momentous resignation.
I loved the brutal honesty of that statement. It’s something we rarely talk about those difficult moments when it feels like God just isn’t there.
Shortly after this statement I had the opportunity to see Terence Malick’s latest film ‘To The Wonder’ which among other things depicts the absence of love and for one character in particular the absence of God.
Javier Bardem’s character Father Quintana is so desperate in his search for God that he spends time in some of the poorest areas of his time desperately seeking for glimpses of God at work. Quintana no longer feels the ardor he knew in the first days of his faith, and wonders if he ever will again.
I can relate to this. I have often wondered about the sleeping God, the God who feels absent.
When I have lost loved ones (long before I feel I should) I have wondered.
When I watch footage of Belfast streets engulfed in riot I have wondered.
When I see footage of starving and sick from around the world I have wondered.
When I hear horror stories of abuse I have wondered.
I understand what Pope Benedict means. I have been there myself. Deep down I know that God often speaks in the calm, still, small voice and not the authoritative storm calming cry.
My faith has been shaken but never waivered, even in its darkest moments. I appreciated Pope Benedict’s honesty and think that more need to be this honest in their leadership of churches.
God is not asleep and never is, always present is what we have been taught. What we need to be taught is what to do when it feels like he is asleep.