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As I get older I realise more and more that the God I was taught about in the various churches I have attended is not the God I have come to know over some 38 years, and he is not the God I have come to love and to trust.

I have become increasingly aware that the God who makes everything right, who solves every problem, brings healing, waving a wand in some Harry Potter-esque way to make everything better, simply does not exist. I am also painfully aware that for Christians I have known over the years, those whose faith was deeply based on everything working out for the better for anyone who followed Christ, when they hit some or other devastating crisis in their lives they lost faith in this clearly fraudulent God who did not make everything better. And who could blame them?

The church has taught us badly that if we follow Christ all will be well, as if we have some insurance policy against the onslaught of life and the ills that plague humanity. This is simply not the case, and remember, even Jesus said that in this world we would have trouble - the only caveat that limits the effect of the world’s devastation is his additional comment that we should take heart because he has overcome the world. In the same vein, he later says that he is always with us – to the very end. And that is the point . . . not that he will make everything better, but that he will be with us through the thick and thin of life, the crap that engulfs us, the evils of disease and illness, the horror and heartbreak of bereavement, the embarrassment and frustration of unemployment, the terror of war.

When we begin to grasp the truth that God is not a cure all, but an infinitely loving and powerful presence who is always with us, we can begin to see that while our ills and troubles may infrequently be cured or put right, they are always healed, in that we can discover the love and grace of God poured into our dire circumstances to bring comfort or relief; to allow us breathing space or grant us insight.  This is not to deny that there are times the Lord does break directly into life to bring miraculous change through his divine intervention, but those events are not commonly or regularly experienced; and may often leave us with the honest question of, if he does that for them then why not for me?

The simple truth is that God never promised to be a magic wand waver, but he did promise to be there, always, until the end.  In recognising that, and living into it, our relationship with God can become far healthier, more authentic, and powerfully real.