"An indifferent spouse"

In the film The Painted Veil, an unhappily married couple, Walter and Kitty Fane, trek into China's rural Guangxi Province where cholera is decimating the locals. Their visit is hardly altruistic. Walter has caught Kitty in an affair and this trip is her punishment.

While Walter, a bacteriologist, fights the disease, Kitty offers her services to the Catholic-run hospital. One day the nun overseeing the hospital speaks of her own troubled "marriage": "I fell in love when I was 17, with God," she says. "Over the years my feelings have changed. He's disappointed me. Ignored me. Over the years we've settled into a relationship of peaceful indifference."

Surrounded by cholera and feeling disappointed by God, the nun vows faithfulness. A honorable stand?

A young pastor named Timothy once faced his own hardships. His church was being persecuted, some of his church leaders were teaching falsely (1 Timothy 1:3), his confidence was shaky (4:12-16), and his mentor was imprisoned (2 Timothy 1:8). So the apostle Paul sent him some song lyrics as encouragement (2:11-13). The song unequivocally calls for perseverance (v.12). Like the nun in The Painted Veil, Timothy was called to stay with God when the joys of faith dissipated.

But Paul adds a vital point: God is faithful to us when we disappoint Him (v.13). The God who faithfully helps us persevere (1 Corinthians 1:8-9), fight temptation (10:13), and face spiritual attack (2 Thessalonians 3:3), is by very nature faithful (Exodus 34:6).

The nun's comments ring with pride, painting the picture of a faithful follower who abides when the moody God ignores her. The apostle Paul challenges this theology. God is no indifferent heavenly spouse, but a Lover who cannot be anything but faithful to us, His bride. , Sheridan Voysey, Our Daily Journey

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