Sunday, July 27, 2014

Turning Away

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?...No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35, 37-39)

The third series of the Doctor Who spinoff show Torchwood was a big departure from the edgy-yet-campy, monster-of-the-week format of the previous two series. “Children Of Earth” was a five-episode miniseries, and its tone was as different as its format. The Torchwood team, now down to just Captain Jack, Gwen, and Ianto, must find a way to save the world’s children from being taken by a sinister alien race.

Although it is set in the Doctor Who universe and is based around a crossover character, the Doctor’s former companion, Captain Jack Harkness, Torchwood has virtually nothing to do with its parent show outside of just a few references. It is about a small team of people, armed with advanced (and often alien) technology who work together without outside help (especially from a certain Time Lord) to protect the earth from extra-terrestrial menaces. If you don’t know that it’s a Who spinoff, you might not even make the connection between the two shows - I certainly didn’t until I was well into the second series. Therefore, Gwen’s recorded message to whomever might discover her video, should the world come to an end as they fear it might, makes perfect sense.

"There's one thing I always meant to ask Jack, back in the old days,” she tells the camera. “I wanted to know about that Doctor of his. The man who appears out of nowhere and saves the world, except sometimes he doesn't. All those times in history when there was no sign of him. Why not? But I don't need to ask anymore. I know the answer now. Sometimes the Doctor must look at this planet and turn away in shame."

I have heard variations on this statement espoused by those who do not believe, or struggle to believe, in God - usually it goes something along the lines of, “If there is a God, why is there so much suffering in the world? Where was he when (insert current tragic event) was going on?”

It’s a valid question, and a difficult one to answer at the best of times. Hindsight is, as they say, 20/20, but what about when your vision is clouded in the moment and you’re not sure you’ll ever make it far enough to be able to look back? I am thankful that neither life nor death, nor rulers, nor future events, nor present troubles, nor distance (physical or otherwise), nor fears and doubts, not even the shameful things we do, individually and collectively, can separate us from the One who loves us and takes care of us whether we are aware of him or not.

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