My Lenten journey this year has been tough, both professionally and personally. I have had a number of challenging Lents, but this ranks high on the scale of difficulty, partly I guess because so many things have been so dispiriting on so many levels.
I suppose we all know that sense of an intersection of various sadnesses and hurts in our lives. Some years are just like this, when we face a bundle of difficulties simultaneously, and it takes everything from us, to be able to navigate them.
Sometimes I think God allows us to be in a cocoon for parts of our lives, where He protects us from noticing the darkness all around, and then when we are ready, He holds open just a corner of the curtain and reveals the horror and darkness of the world. It is a gruesome and overwhelming sight- so much pride and violence, sadness and evil.
And so we lament, we cry from the pit of our stomach, a raw wailing of pain and loss. It is a time of searching and questioning- why is there such evil in the world, so many conflicts, people exploited, corruption and cruelty. Why are so many still in such pain as we begin to come out of the pandemic, weighed down by grief and loss and trauma. At the beginning of the pandemic, we promised to build a brave new world, where we were kinder and focused on what mattered. Where has that vision gone?
In the midst of anguish and lament, again and again I go back to Job’s powerful words ‘ I know that my Redeemer lives’ from Job 19:25
In the midst of personal loss and tragedy, Job was sure of his God, that somehow God was still good, merciful and loving. That is the challenge for all of us. As a human race, God has let us live with the consequences of our actions, and these are so ugly- carnage, destruction, cruelty, darkness. But He never leaves us without hope. There are a myriad of opportunities for redemption through the cross, through us being willing to pray, to grow in our discipleship, to work for good, to choose love. God has equipped us for all we need, and has given us the gift of His spirit to strengthen us and encourage us.
In the desert, we are confronted with the starkness of our lives, and it is ugly, and we weep. But we are also reminded that every day we have a choice, to choose the light or the dark, to despair or to hope, to give up, or to have new resolve to go forward. May God speak to us today, whatever our circumstances, and help us always to choose life and love.
Father God, in the night, things seem so dismal, and we so easily become afraid and despondent. We see the evil in the world and the destruction it causes, and we wail and lament, even more so when we see more clearly our own part in it. Lord Jesus, on the cross, You said ‘Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing’. In your mercy, forgive us, as individuals and as a planet. Cleanse us, and give us hearts filled with love and hope, lives transformed to bring your love into this broken and hurting world. We plead with You, for we need You so badly. Holy spirit subdue the darkness in our hearts and do a new thing. Keep us from.the temptation of giving up, and give us courage. After weeping in the night, comes rejoicing in the dawn. May that assurance give us courage for all that lies ahead, Amen.