Sometimes life is good and faith is easy. Choose your image: the seas of your life are calm… the various components of your life are gently falling into place… the people around you are pleasant, agreeable, and kind.
But sometimes life doesn’t make sense and faith is tough. Really tough. Things happen (or a single BIG thing happens) that (choose your image): knocks you off your feet… causes you to cry out “No! No!” in disbelief… raises the nagging question again, “How could a good God allow This Terrible Thing to happen?” This is a prayer for times like that.
“Prayer for When Life Doesn’t Make Sense”
I don’t get it, God… I just don’t understand… And I WANT to understand… I NEED to understand.
Just explain it to me. Help me to see how This Thing makes sense. I think I could accept it if it somehow made sense. If it was logical… fair… reasonable. If I could see a PURPOSE in it. Or, better yet, if I could see some GOOD in it… Some GOOD that This Thing will bring about… Some GOOD that outweighs the bad I can only see now… Some GOOD that makes This Thing not only permissible, but acceptable.
I’m hanging on, God. I’m hanging on to the end of a branch, and I’m pretty high up in the tree too… (Or) I’m clinging to my capsized canoe, and being tossed up and down by the waves… (Or) I’m reciting, “The Lord is my shepherd the Lord is my shepherd” again and again, words that used to give me comfort, but now seem hollow and empty.
All I have left right now, God, is faith. Pure faith. Or (more accurately) all I have left right now is my trust in you… in your wisdom… your goodness… your love. I’m trying to trust in you, God, but frankly my trust is wearing thin. Very thin. So thin I sometimes wonder if it exists at all.
So, here I am, God, begging, as I sometimes have to do. I’m begging you to help me. Help me to hang on. Give me the strength to face This Thing… to deal with This Thing… to endure This Thing. And give me direction. Help me to see what This Thing might mean for me… what it might be asking of me… what it might be calling me to do. As I ask for these things, I am thinking of Jesus, your son.
For in Gethsemane, Jesus too faced a BIG thing that made no sense… that knocked him to his knees: his looming death by crucifixion. It was there among the old gnarled olive trees that he uttered words that I imagine were similar to the words I am crying now: “Not this, God!… Not this!… Anything but this!” Jesus begged you his Father, “Let this cup pass from me.” But then he added those words I am trying to make my own, “Not as I will, but as you will” (Mt. 26:39)… Jesus was clinging to the only thing he had left: his unconditional trust in you. Because his trust in you was so deep, he could cry out with a loud voice even while hanging on the cross, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Lk. 23:46).
Loving God, I beg you now. Help me to make Jesus’ words my own. Help me to believe This Thing is in your hands… and so am I… and so are we all. Amen.
Our video today is Carrie Newcomer’s lovely song “Sanctuary.” She reminds us that God is our Ultimate Sanctuary. But God calls us to be a sanctuary for each other, especially in time of need. As you pray this song, ask yourself, “Who has been a sanctuary for me in my time of need?” And, “For whom have I been a sanctuary?” Toward the end of this video, you will see a flock of birds flying close together, forming beautiful and intricate patterns in the sky. This phenomenon is called “murmuring.” And it is fascinating to watch. Scientists don’t know why some flocks of birds (starlings, for example) do this. Is it a way of bonding? Is it intended to confuse predators? And HOW do they do it? Why aren’t they crashing into each other? The “murmuring of birds”… just another great mystery in our amazing world…
I invite you to respond below to this reflection…
PS: On the lighter side, a Benedictine friend of mine, Brother Ben, sent me the June page from an Appalachian calendar, “Simple Life Style.” Each day is dedicated to something—or even more than one thing. Here’s this weeks’ dedications: MON: Peace with Justice Day… TUES: Best Friends’ Day/ World Oceans Day… WED: Senior Citizen Day… THURS: Herb & Spices Day/ Ice Tea Day… FRI: Corn on the Cob Day… SAT: World Day Against Child Labor/ Knit in Public Day… SUN: Weed Your Garden Day/ Children’s Day.