In The Meantime Part 1: The New Normal


On Sunday 3rd April at our morning service, we started our new series 'In The Meantime' with a talk called The New Normal In this blog you will find a summary of the talk and then some questions and reflections for you to think through on your own or to discuss in your small group.

If you would like to listen to the talk on-line, please click here.

Talk Notes and Summary


Have you ever found yourself in one of those situations when there seems no way forward and no good way out? There are problems for which there seem to be no solutions, there are questions but no answers. It is what it is and it looks like that is just the way it is going to be.

For many of us it will be relationally. For some might be with your children. For some it might be with elderly parents or a partner you are caring for. For some it will be financially. For some it might be professionally. For some it is a health issue.

Do you ever have those kinds of situations, maybe you are in one right now and this is your new normal?

In these in the meantime times, there are three things we are tempted to conclude:
•    I’ll never be happy again
•    Nothing good can come from this
•    There’s no point in continuing

And in this series we are going to see if those are our only options and whether there is a better way and today I want to deal with the question of what is God doing when we are in these in the meantime times, when what we are living with has become the new normal for us, because for most us the big question when these seasons hit us is “where is God?”

The good news for all of us is that God’s story is full of people who experienced in the meantime times. Throughout God’s story he seems to abandon his favourite people to in the meantime circumstances. Here is the extraordinary thing: we are not alone and we are not the first, God’s story is full of people who experienced the same thing and the same feelings. One of those people was a guy we call John the Baptist. 

One day Jesus was teaching some of his closest friends and followers and some of the people who were friends and followers of John came up and asked Jesus as question. You can read that story in the Bible in Matthew’s account of Jesus’ life chapter 11 verses 2 to 11. Click here to read that story.

John is asking the question “Jesus are you really who you say you are?” He is doubting who Jesus is because he is in prison. By the time John sends this message he has been in prison (in a desert dungeon) for over a year – probably a year and a half and not unreasonably he has questions – he is beginning to have doubts.

Jesus says go back and report to John all the things I am doing…for everyone else. Then Jesus says a strange thing, but this is really powerful and this is really helpful if you are experiencing in the meantime times, if you’re waiting in the desert dungeon and there seems to be no way out – look at verse 6.

Jesus is saying there will be times when I don’t make sense, but happy is the man or woman who maintains faith anyway, who believes and trusts anyway. They will be blessed. Jesus is saying do not confuse my silence for absence. You can still be blessed in these circumstances.

We must also not confuse God’s silence for a lack of care or anger. Fast forward a few verses and look what Jesus tells everyone about John (verse 11). There is no one greater, John is the greatest and Jesus cares about him. Jesus loves him, but for whatever reason he isn’t intervening to get him out.

It is possible to be loved by Jesus, loved by God and for our circumstances to still be rubbish. This is critical – our circumstances are not proof of how God feels about us.

There are three things we may be tempted to believe in the meantime:
•    I’ll never be happy again
•    Nothing good can come from this
•    There’s no point in continuing
And if we give in to the temptation to believe these lies we lose joy, hope and purpose:
•    We lose joy when we hear I’ll never be happy again
•    We lose hope when we hear nothing good can come from this
•    We lose purpose when we hear there’s no point in continuing

But I have some great news for you: that does not need to happen. Based on the accounts of people in God’s story and based on accounts of people that we know you can regain your joy, your hope and your purpose. You have not been forgotten or abandoned by God. Your circumstances are your circumstances and they may be really tough, but they are NOT proof of the presence of absence of God.

So for the next few weeks, when you are tempted to believe the lies, say to yourself:
•    I can be happy
•    Something good can come from this
•    There’s a purpose to this pain

Questions for Reflection

1. Thing about a season of life - childhood, teen years, college, early adulthood - that you look back on fondly. What did you enjoy about that season?

2. Have you ever seen someone demonstrate great faith in God despite difficult circumstances? If so, how did that person’s faith influence your own?

3. When have you faced a difficult event or season in life that caused you to feel you’d never be happy again or that no good could come from what you were experiencing? What happened?

4. Do you agree that God loves you regardless of whether it feels like he loves you. How would your life be different if you lived as though you fully believed that truth?

5. Talk about a time when you felt God was absent from your life, apathetic about what you were going through, or angry with you. How did it influence your relationship with him? What did you do?

6. If you’re currently in the middle of difficult circumstances or when you are in the future, what are some practical things you can do to remind yourself that God hasn’t abandoned you? What role can friends or your small group play in shoring up your faith when God is silent?


Chris Porter, 04/04/2016