A wintry spirituality

By Dave Henning / March 3, 2013

In Chapter 9 (“When God Seems Absent”) of God is Closer Than You Think, author John Ortberg notes that while we can relocate to a warmer climate to escape cold weather, we cannot escape spiritual winter.  Pastor Ortberg adds that theologian Martin E. Marty described the need for “a wintry spirituality” in his book A Cry of Absence: Reflections for the Winter of the Heart.  Dr. Marty stated that this type of spirituality is needed when warmth and joy have been taken away from us and a sunny disposition is inadequate to bring them back.  It is a time when God seems absent.

C. S. Lewis poignantly described God’s seeming absence in A Grief Observed:

“Where is God? . . . Go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is in vain, and what do you find?  A door slammed in your face,, and a sound of bolting and double-bolting on the inside.  After that, silence.”

As Pastor Ortberg points out, generally we associate well-being with God’s presence.  He quips that no one would write a book titled Where is God When It Feels Good?  The truth is, of course, that God is always with us.  Only our limited, finite perspective perceives His seeming absence.  One key, writer Anne Lamott states, is to understand the difference between us and God:

“The difference between us and God is that God doesn’t think He is you.”

Note:  New Short Meditation, “Here I Am” will post Monday.


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Dave Henning

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