The Lord will mediate between nations and will settle international disputes. They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore.
Lord, we’ve gotten nowhere.
Again and again, the suffering and brutality of our world becomes too apparent.
And I get this mixture of anger followed by resignation. I pray, I cry out, I even shed tears. And it’s real, believe me, God. But then I go back to loading my dishwasher, or checking my email, or whatever. And my street is pretty peaceful when I look out the window. Yet it’s a mirage. There are mourning Israelis and weeping Palestinians. There are Israelis screaming in anger and Palestinians screaming in anger. Nobody will ever win this. But it’s not just there. It's here too. There are fresh diagnoses of cancer. There are dead-end jobs and failing health and people being mistreated. There are crippling mental health struggles and there are embittered spirits and there are burned out leaders. There is shame and trauma from the past, and it is stopping people from living in the present. It all feels so unfair.
Who can bear it all? Certainly not me, Jesus.
So in all my grand pastoral wisdom, sometimes all I can think is, what the heck, Lord???
The thing is, Jesus, I don’t even hold a theology that expects you to come out of nowhere and stop all the violence, fix all of our problems, or change the laws of physics. I believe you can and have done miracles, but I have learned to trust that those usually take place in ways deeper than we can see. I’ve come to believe that the deepest work you do is not in jamming gun triggers and rocket launch buttons, but in transforming the hearts of those that pull and push them.
I believe that you can bring peace and comfort in a world too full of violence, anxiety, and pain. I believe that you have created a people to reveal to the world a better way, and to bring it into reality. I believe that there’s grace in these waiting moments as we long for wholeness in us and our world. And I believe that there is hope for a forever future free of injustice and sin and suffering.
And then other days, Lord, all that stuff above just sounds like a bunch of religious jargon. And I’m left just needing to send those feelings somewhere and say, “enough is enough, Jesus.”
So it’s not really anger at you, God. It’s generic anger. It’s directed at powers and systems and myths of redemptive violence. It’s directed at sickness and sin and death and their ongoing effect on the world. It’s frustration at a world that didn’t didn’t get it when you wept over Jerusalem and asked them to open their eyes so that they could know the things that bring real peace. It’s frustration at a world that still doesn’t get it. It’s frustration that so many times, I don’t either. The anger is just the lid on top of a complicated pot of bubbling feelings.
But the feelings are real, and I know that if I don’t direct them to you, they’ll get directed elsewhere.
So I figure you’re not fragile.
I figure you can handle my annoyance with how awful people can be and how hard it is to trust that they are still made in your image.
I figure you can handle my guilt that I don’t have answers to fix the problems or strategies to make all of our pain and trauma go away.
I figure you can handle my tied tongue, that when there aren’t the right words (or words at all), you can still comprehend my silent longing for your kingdom to come.
I figure that you might even invite me into these outbursts, because I’m just joining our historic line of holy criers, complainers, and questioners that can't quite swallow the idea that “that’s just the way the world is.”
Because it shouldn’t be. We both know that.
So when I rant and groan and ramble like this, Lord, it’s just my best attempt to be faithful right now, even though I know it may not be helpful.
Perhaps tomorrow has more hope. Or perhaps I’m in a season of trusting that another world is possible, even when I don’t see much to back it up. But I’m not going anywhere. You still have the words of life. You always will.
Thanks for praying with me today, friends.
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