Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 22; 148, Jeremiah 5:1-9, Romans 2:25-3:18, John 5:30-47
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
and by night, but find no rest.
These opening verses from Psalm 22 don’t inspire many feel-good sermons, yet they contain the essence of faith. The psalmist who wrote these words had a very realistic view of the world. He saw that evildoers often have the upper hand, and that the faithful suffer unfairly. He felt like a worm, like prey hunted by lions and trampled by oxen. Yet in his pain and despair, he continued to cry out to God. He continued to believe God would ultimately deliver him, as so many before him had been delivered.
The psalmist, despite his misfortune and persecution, refused to believe God was anything but just.
Many people believe personal wealth and comfort are signs of God’s favor, and that poverty and illness are signs of disfavor. If this was the case, why is it that God always seemed to be sending prophets to defend the widow and orphan against the abuses of the wealthy? Why is it the hypocrisy of the powerful draws destruction? The psalmist endures his troubles by trusting that God will ultimately prevail; his current status is not the barometer of a capricious creator’s mood swings, but of the corruption of the society around him.
When we cry for justice, do we think of it as something to be delivered to us or something delivered through us? It can be either or both, but if our cry for justice ends when our own bellies are filled while others are empty, what we’re seeking isn’t justice. The psalmist’s hope for himself is inseparable from his hope for his community. He prays to belong to a kingdom that expects is citizens to feed the poor rather than despise them.
When we believe God is just, we behave justly. If we want to be the recipients of God’s justice; we must also be the instruments of it.
Comfort: God is always the source of justice.
Challenge: When you feel you are the victim of injustice, ask yourself how you are also part of changing that.
Prayer: God of justice, I seek your way for myself and my neighbor. Amen.
Discussion: What do you think is the relationship between sin and suffering?
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