Short Arm Syndrome

Moses has led Israel out of Egypt into the desert. They complain that they don’t have the right food… Moses complains to his God, ‘Here I am among six hundred thousand men on foot and you say, ‘I will give them meat to eat for a whole month.’’  

God replies, ‘Is the Lord’s arm too short?’ …Am I incapable of helping? Can’t I solve the problem? Do I suffer from short arm syndrome?

Yesterday we heard songwriter Barrett Strong’s death. One of his most famous songs goes:

I heard it through the grapevine
Not much longer would you be mine…

Hearing ‘through the grapevine’ about lost love, heartache… There’s confusion, a longed for but unspoken conversation. He can’t reach the woman he loves… short arm syndrome.

I’ve had several recent conversations with parents, anxious about their children at school. They consider voicing their concerns, moving schools… They feel helpless. They can’t reach into the school and solve their child’s problem. It’s short arm syndrome.

Today’s the 70th anniversary of the 1953 East of England Floods. The combination of wind, high tide, and low pressure caused the sea to rise 18ft. In Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex 307 people died – as well as many in Europe and at sea.

The rescue services worked valiantly, but buildings, land and lives were lost… helpless against the elements… short arm syndrome…

I learnt a new word yesterday ‘scanxiety’… Folk with cancer have constant scans and tests… the results are out of their control. Friends with recent tests for heart conditions and their eyesight have suffered from scanxiety… short arm syndrome.

Hundreds of years after Moses’ death, God told Isaiah: ‘Surely the arm of the Lord is not to short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.’

Many things are outside my control; I have constant short arm syndrome. And yet… Somewhere in the mystery of a God who permits tragedies there is a God who can never suffer from short arm syndrome.

2 thoughts on “Short Arm Syndrome

  1. Great post, Malcom, and apart from all the other content in your musings, I always love the reminders that you give me of the music from my late teens! Thank you 😊


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