When bad things happen, a regular refrain that can be heard is "Why did God let this happen?" An acquaintance of mine, who has recently lost the majority of his lifetime's savings in the debacle on Wall Street, asked me that last week. "How could God have let this happen to me? What am I going to do now?"
We began reading the scary book of the prophet Joel yesterday. We finish the first chapter today and start on the second and I am struck by the language of loss, the language of pain and anguish, the language of sadness, the language that indicates that "the day of the Lord is coming....a day of darkness and gloom." I read these passages and I want to physically duck and hide as these kind of Biblical passages have been abused and misused for centuries by dooms day advocates.
Interestingly, this reading is paired with Jesus, on his walk to Jerusalem, turning to the crowd and telling them they must hate mother, father, sister, brother. They must give up possessions, pick up their cross and follow him. Follow him with nothing apparently, but themselves.
I believe in the efficacy of prayer, of God in our lives in a palpable way. But God didn't cause or let happen the economic crisis that is sweeping the world. We did. Greed and avarice did. Have people been hurt by this crisis. Absolutely. And I think God can be found in how we respond to those people. I think God can be found in how we reorder our lives and re-find what is truly important. That is what Joel is talking about: a reordering or our priorities. And that is what Jesus is talking about too.
Copyright 2008, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.