[Jesus told the disciples], “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.”
I have been reflecting lately on the goodness and faithfulness of God. In times like these with a pandemic that’s keeping us all pretty much secluded from everyday life- and especially from ourselves – not to mention our nation’s social upheaval, some people seek to find hope and peace in the love and goodness of God. I hear such platitudes as “God is in control,” “God is still on his throne,” or “Jesus will see us through this” (or worse yet, “The Rapture must be coming soon!”). But, why doesn’t it feel like those things are true? I don’t see the evidence for it (but, of course, maybe that’s the point). I just see a deteriorating world hopelessly wandering around looking for a savior who fails to show up. Maybe that’s all we can expect of a stained-glass Jesus.
I am not speaking of the Jesus of history, of course. Now, that was a man! He didn’t sugar-coat God. He was rough, course, skin-calloused. He didn’t pussyfoot around. He knew what it was to work and sweat, to laugh, and, yes, to even cry. When terror and death seized upon him as he was mercilessly nailed to a cross, he looked up to his Father. And what did he say, “God, you got this; you’ll work it all out?” No, actually, while dying a gruesome, heinous death by crucifixion, he cried out a psalm. The beginning of the psalm (Psalm 22) goes something like this:
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.”
Yep, those words are in the Bible. Can anyone identify with these words? I can. I used to quite often. Where is God in all of this? “C’mon, God, where are you? How many people have to get sick and die for you to act? Will you ever do anything?” Of course, we can still smile and perform random (or intentional) acts of kindness and be all religious in our terminology. But does that really make up for the seeming absence of God at times?
Why are there evil and wars and injustices and pestilence – and viruses – in the world? In the pit of my stomach I have to scream, “This is not the way it is suppose to be!” Ravings of a madman? A blasphemer? Or, someone who is just sad because the world is breaking?
Jesus wasn’t afraid to ask aloud what many ask secretly in their hearts: “Where are you, God?” And, he didn’t quickly disregard the question. He looked divine abandonment straight in the eyes. God abandoned his own perfect, sinless Son. I have to wonder why we should fare any better.
And then Jesus died. And the people mocked. “He saved others. Why didn’t he save himself? Ha. Ha.”
But, and I would be totally amiss if I didn’t point this out, Psalm 22 continues:
“Yet you, God, are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our fathers trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.”
Or, as Jesus simply, yet courageously, said as he died, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
In whose hands are you committing your spirit? Fate? Luck? Chance? Religiosity even?
Why not commit your spirit in these times – and in every season of time, good or bad – in the loving embrace of a faithful and good Father who is, by the way, on his throne and in complete control of everything?
“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
― Julian of Norwich