We like quick fixes. It kind of seems like the woman in our story this morning got one. She just touched Jesus’s cloak and boom, she was healed. But if you were listening closely to the story, you know that she had been suffering for 12 years. Twelve years! She had seen doctor after doctor. Her condition separated her from family and friends because it caused her to be declared “unclean.” You can see how this story can be told, can’t you? Nothing worked, until she tried Jesus. Then she was healed. You see, God had it under control the whole time.
One of my pet theological peaves—and I have many—is the relatively newly coined phrase “God’s got this” used to respond to troubles from deciding where to go to college to going through chemo therapy to having a child in a coma. Don’t worry! I see on FB and email threads and prayer chains. God’s got this!
Depressed? Cheer up! God’s got this
Lonely? Get out there! God’s got this
Sick? Don’t despair. God’s got this
Short on cash? Never fear. God’s got this.
Struggling with a life- altering decision? Don’t worry. God’s Got This.
God becomes Captain America, Oprah and Apple all rolled into one. God is the fix for everything. So everything is fine. All is well. God’s got this.
Except that it’s not true. Well, it is true in that God is always present in our lives and will never leave us and will never stop loving us. The whole world in his hands and all that. But the phrase “God’s got this” is used interchangeably or in conjunction with “everything will be fine.” And the idea that God is going to make everything okay is not Biblical and it’s not true.
But there’s nothing Biblical about the idea that everything is fine. From the time that Jesus cried out on the cross, My God, My God why have you forsaken me? we should have known that ours is not a faith that promises everything will work out fine. Jesus was crucified. Mary lost a son. Stephen was stoned. Paul was jailed and later beheaded.
Jeremiah talks about it way back in the Old Testament: From the least to the greatest, each is eager to profit; from prophet to priest, each trades in dishonesty. They treat the wound of my people as if it were nothing: “All is well, all is well,” they insist, when in fact nothing is well.
Now Jeremiah is not talking about times when you’re worried about a test the next day and your mom or dad says, “You’ve studied hard. It’s going to be fine.” Or when you’re stressed about an important presentation the next day and your spouse says, “It will be fine. You are really good at this. You’ll do great.”
No what Jeremiah and I are talking about are those people who discount or devalue the deep wounds and hurts and troubles that people experience by brushing them off with a “It’s fine. God’s got this.” As if God is some sort of action hero who catches problems like hand grenades and tosses them in another direction before they completely blow up our lives.
And we can’t just blame other people for saying everything is fine when it’s clearly not. Though statistics vary on the subject, it seems that average person lies between four and six times a day. And the most common lie that people tell is “I’m fine.” And though I hope we are all blessed with times in our lives when “I’m fine” is the God’s honest truth, I know that more often than not, things are not fine. But nine times out of ten, when we’re asked how we’re doing, our answer is “just fine.”
We not only try to convince others, but ourselves as well. We begin to wonder does God really “got this” after all?
And then we become even less fine than we were before. After all, you begin to think, how good a Christian can I be if everything is not okay? Because if you were a really good Christian, everything would be fine, wouldn’t it?
Unfortunately, historically the church has managed to convey to her people that if your lives are not fine, then you must be doing something wrong. Or there must be something wrong with you, because there’s certainly nothing wrong with God. If you would just buy in to the idea that God’s Got This, then everything would be fine.
But God is some sort of cure-all drug and the church is not a quick fix club. It’s not a place where the appropriate application of God will immediately fix whatever is broken. Church is not where you come because everything is okay, it’s where you should be able to come and say that everything is not okay and have it be, well, okay.
Right now in this church there is someone suffering from depression, anxiety, physical illness, broken relationships, financial trouble. Problems that often have no outward physical manifestation and can be easily concealed with the answer of “I’m fine.” When asked “how are you?”
We certainly don’t want to admit our brokenness. That our own prayers don’t seem to have done the trick. We readily offer up prayers for others, but how often does anyone ask for prayers for yourself?
It is almost as if we have become convinced that to admit that we need help, that we need prayers, that we are not alright is to be a bad Christian. To admit to brokenness is somehow to out ourselves as people whose faith just isn’t quite strong enough. That everyone will see just how bad we are at following Christ if we reveal all of our fumbling and faltering and failings.
As Christians we are promised some pretty amazing things—unconditional love, forgiveness for our sins, everlasting life—but never that things are going to be fine.
The bad news is that everything is not fine. The good news is that that’s just fine. Church is a place for people who are not okay, who need more than quick clichés and band-aid platitudes.
And even though God may not swoop in and make whatever “this” is in your life magically okay, rest assured in the knowledge that God has got YOU and will never let go.