Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Day 13: Never Abandoned

"Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am in trouble : my eye wastes away for grief, my throat also and my inward parts. For my life wears out in sorrow, and my years with sighing : my strength fails me in my affliction, and my bones are consumed. I am become the scorn of all my enemies: and my neighbours wag their heads in derision. I am a thing of horror to my friends : and those that see me in the street shrink from me. I am forgotten like a dead man out of mind : I have become like a broken vessel. For I hear the whispering of many: and fear is on every side;While they plot together against me : and scheme to take away my life. But in you, Lord, have I put my trust : I have said ‘You are my God.’"  -Psalm 31 9-16

We have all struggled in our lives. We have all known immeasurable grief. We have all felt like the outcast, hated or ignored. It is at times like these when reaching out to God seems like the obvious thing to do… but it’s at times like these when it seems like God is untouchable. We retreat further and further into our pain, grief, anger, hate and use it as fuel and insulation to keep going and to protect ourselves. Why is it so hard to remember that God still loves us, God holds us, God has not abandoned us when things are at their worst?

Will Bryant said in his Lenten reflection a few days ago, that it’s incredibly difficult to be a Christian. He hit the nail on the head with that statement, and I think that the Psalm for today puts that truth into a very stark light. As Christians, we believe a enormous range of things: from God created the world as it was and is and will be and we are destined to follow the path created for us… to God is in control but we have no idea how or why or to what extent… to God made it all and now is leaning back to enjoy the show and see what we do with what we have. But whether we are strongly set and determined in our beliefs or we have a million and half questions, when things go wrong, our grip on God can get knocked a little loose. For some of us, that means we double up on our grip, hold on for dear life even though there’s a hurricane swirling around us, and the people who can do that have the inhuman strength of Mr. Incredible. For others of us, that grip can be very difficult to regain; because, regardless of our belief in God, when bad things happen, it can be easy to blame God.

The most emotionally strong Mr. Incredible ever must have written the section of Psalm 31 that we have today. The author is grieving, so much that he is wasting away. He is hated by people who were once his friends and then ignored as if he had died generations ago; which, to be fair, may be preferable to the next line in which he says that people are plotting to kill him. But instead of blaming God or asking God “hey, where are you?”, in the end, he says “In you Lord, have I put my trust; I have said ‘you are my God.’” How does he do that, I ask you?

What I’m left with after reading this psalm is that, regardless of how great the struggle is, and regardless of how we may be feeling about God, whether we have the strength like that of our psalm writer, or if our struggles push us away from God… God loves us anyway. Even if we can’t bring ourselves to want to go to church, or to pray, or even to think about whatever God may be to us, God is still there. God never leaves. God never abandons us.

Claire Harkey is 26 years old and from the Diocese of Mississippi. 
She currently spends her days hanging out with the high school students of 
La Escuela Episcopal El Buen Pastor in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

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