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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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The silence of God | These three remain

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:1213

 


 

Knowing in part, seeing only a reflection as in a mirror: this is the pain of life before Jesus’ return. We long to know fully, even as we are fully known – seeing what eyes have not seen, hearing what ears have not heard, and conceiving that which has not entered human minds. As Jesus himself experienced in his Good Friday cry of abandonment, living less than face-to-face with God is difficult.

Perhaps it is seasons of God’s seeming darkness and silence that confront us most powerfully with this tension of ‘now’ and ‘not yet’. Now, we see in part – but not yet face-to-face. We ache over the mystery of God as it touches our unanswered prayers, griefs, and regrets. We ache because we do not see things as he sees them. The brokenness of war and of political systems, bodies that get sick, relationships that fail; all these disappoint. For it is all less than we hoped. And we do not know why.

Lent can be an opportunity to lean into that mystery. It can be for choosing the less-than-we-had-hoped, welcoming the only partial knowing. In the chosen denials, whether sugar or social media, and in the unchosen disappointments that constrict our hearts at their painful mystery, these ‘now’ moments are where we can lean into the promise that a glorious ‘not yet’ comes surely towards us.

We can lean in because of this ‘not yet’. But we can also lean into these mysteries because, even now, we are fully known. Through all the mystery and fleeting glimpses of God, even here and now, God knows us fully. Our full knowledge awaits a future date; God’s knowledge of us is complete now. And, knowing us, he holds us in nail-scarred hands of love.

So, it is these three that remain: faith, hope, and love. To paraphrase John of the Cross put it this way: our knowing is now becoming grounded as faith in God, our conceiving of what will be now grounded as hope in Spirit revelation, and our will now grounded in love for God and people. This faith confirms that, in our everyday lives, we are held in God’s love. Hope confirms that it shall ever be so. And love is the overflowing response to the God whose name is Love. Yes, these three remain…until he comes!

 

Dr Chloe Lynch
Lecturer in Practical Theology, London School of Theology

How will knowing yourself to be held in love encourage you to overflow with God’s love for others at work, at home, and in the other places you’ll find yourself this week? 

 

Comments

  1. At present we are in a season of change with no real time frame to follow and dicotomous ideas of what is next. We have both been poorly treated by a missionary organization, (lied to our faces, slandered, treated as worthless, etc).
    It gives us Peace, an island of calm in a tossing sea.
    Also Hope, that whatever is the final outcome, it will be by His will.
    So we just rattle on each day trying to get as much as possible done, binding the wounds and looking to the light of the future.

    By Christian Atkins  -  25 Mar 2024
  2. Hi Chloe,
    Thank you for your series of meditations which I’ve really appreciated. Good to have the reminder that I am fully known by God, and by faith can believe that I am fully loved also, even though my knowing of God is like glimpses, and my loving of Him is inconsistent.

    By David Pickering  -  26 Mar 2024
  3. Thank you so much for this – so very helpful in the waiting.

    By Robert Grayson  -  26 Mar 2024

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