There are times we feel so weary and disheartened that we don’t feel up for listening. But whatever the particulars, our essential problem is deafness to God’s voice. We become absorbed in the world of our own experiences, thoughts, feelings, and opinions. The early church used a wonderful phrase to capture the essential inward turning nature of sinfulness: curvitas in se. We curve in on ourselves. Sin’s curvitas in se pointedly turns away from God. When you or others suffer, you experience or witness the strength of this incurving tendency. It’s hard not to be self-preoccupied.
God willingly keeps talking. Listen to how near he sounds in this hymn (How Firm a Foundation). The Lifegiver willingly gives ears to hear. The incurving can be reversed. Psalms cry out rather than turning in. Jesus is a most excellent teacher. In the extremity of his agony, there was no curvitas in se. He heard God’s voice and remembered. He turned towards God in neediness, generosity, and trust: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing. Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” He turned towards people in practical love: “Today you will be with me in paradise. Behold your son. Behold your mother.” He gave voice to honest experience of his ordeal: “I am thirsty. It is ﬁnished.”
This is the Jesus to whom we have ﬂed for refuge. This most careful and thoughtful of listeners walked ahead of us. He deals gently with our ignorance and waywardness. He now willingly walks with us, fully aware of our temptations to be forgetful, distracted, and inattentive. He addresses the biggest problem ﬁrst. That’s why this hymn speaks in the ﬁrst person. The words of new life ﬁrst create ears that listen.
David Powlison, “God’s Grace in Your Sufferings” in Suffering and the Sovereignty of God, edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor, p. 155.
A word for when we don’t feel like listening to God
June 1, 2011 by John Knight