Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 51:1-12 â€“ The 5th Sunday of Lent Â – for March 25, 2012
â€œCreate in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.â€ (Psalm 51:10)
Why doesnâ€™t God answer my prayers?
Why doesnâ€™t God heal my friend?
Why does God seem distant, absent or capricious?
This week I read the stunning words of the Old Testament prophet: Jeremiah claimed the Lord will â€œput my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.â€ Alleluia! The God who bequeathed the rock hard tablets of law to Moses preferred to touch the vulnerable heart of the human creation, and will forever forgive them of their sins. How compassionate! Soon after I read the tender words of the Psalms . . . â€œCreate in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.â€ Alleluia! The ancient psalmist gifted, from generation to generation, the joy of trusting Godâ€™s saving grace. How compassionate!
Then, why do we so often feel abandoned? Why has a person won the lottery, or had their sick child made whole and happy, or married the perfect soul mate while another experienced financial struggle, illness and fractured relationships?
Why is God distant? Absent! Capricious!
In the same week I read Jeremiahâ€™s stunning declaration and the Psalmistâ€™s tender requests, I met with Cathy*, the director of a local hospiceâ€™s Center for Grief & Healing. I volunteer at this hospice and needed information about one of their programs. Once my â€œbusinessâ€ was finished, Cathy asked a question. She knows Iâ€™m a pastor and sought my feedback about a struggle she sometimes experiences with grieving clients.
Itâ€™s easy to guess what she asked. Iâ€™ve already posed the questions alongside thoughts about God writing laws on the heart and placing a â€œnew and right spiritâ€ into humans.
Not always, but too often, Cathy counsels clients angry with God or church or both. Theyâ€™ve read scripture or heard sermons that promised God would hear their anguished requests. Heal my child. Mend my broken soul. Ease my spouseâ€™s suffering. And yet nothing changed . . . the child died, their soul splintered further, pain wracked and wrecked a loving partner to the bitter end.
They sit in Cathyâ€™s office and, with a whisper or a shout, wonder, â€œWhy is God _______?â€ Distant? Absent? Capricious?
â€œHow can I help them answer that?â€ Cathy asked. Continue reading →