I don't know about you, but the world these days has me concerned. Killing, immorality, financial crisis, violence, health woes... if you turn on the news, prepare to feel blue.
But the reality is that tragedy is nothing new to our world, and suffering is something that God knows all too well.
Statistics show (and prove time and time again) that in times of crisis, people turn MORE towards faith, particularly here in our nation whenver financial problems arise. I think it has something to do with realizing what's really important, digging in deep and letting go of what's unnecessary, and clinging to that which you know will ALWAYS provide (your faith).
As I was scrubbing out my coffee mug (a task that was particularly difficult b/c our office is out of dish soap and there isn't money to buy more, without someone buying it personally... which hasn't been done... yet) this morning, I looked at the sponge in my hands and realized that I have a habit of squeezing the sponge tight before I run it under the fauce to absorb the water. Humanity is a lot like this. Its when we are squeezed tight, reach a point of struggle that we are then able to absorb and fully appreciate and take in our faith. From there we can do God's will better.
Scripture is FULL of struggle, but a particular Psalm brings me a lot of comfort and hope...
1 2 For the leader; according to "The deer of the dawn." A psalm of David.
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why so far from my call for help, from my cries of anguish?
My God, I call by day, but you do not answer; by night, but I have no relief.
Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the glory of Israel.
In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted and you rescued them.
To you they cried out and they escaped; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.
3 But I am a worm, hardly human, scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me; they curl their lips and jeer; they shake their heads at me:
"You relied on the LORD--let him deliver you; if he loves you, let him rescue you."
Yet you drew me forth from the womb, made me safe at my mother's breast.
Upon you I was thrust from the womb; since birth you are my God.
Do not stay far from me, for trouble is near, and there is no one to help.
4 Many bulls surround me; fierce bulls of Bashan encircle me.
They open their mouths against me, lions that rend and roar.
Like water my life drains away; all my bones grow soft. My heart has become like wax, it melts away within me.
5 As dry as a potsherd is my throat; my tongue sticks to my palate; you lay me in the dust of death.
Many dogs surround me; a pack of evildoers closes in on me. So wasted are my hands and feet
that I can count all my bones. They stare at me and gloat;
they divide my garments among them; for my clothing they cast lots.
But you, LORD, do not stay far off; my strength, come quickly to help me.
Deliver me from the sword, my forlorn life from the teeth of the dog.
Save me from the lion's mouth, my poor life from the horns of wild bulls.
6 Then I will proclaim your name to the assembly; in the community I will praise you:
"You who fear the LORD, give praise! All descendants of Jacob, give honor; show reverence, all descendants of Israel!
7 For God has not spurned or disdained the misery of this poor wretch, Did not turn away from me, but heard me when I cried out.
I will offer praise in the great assembly; my vows I will fulfill before those who fear him.
8 The poor will eat their fill; those who seek the LORD will offer praise. May your hearts enjoy life forever!"
All the ends of the earth will worship and turn to the LORD; All the families of nations will bow low before you.
For kingship belongs to the LORD, the ruler over the nations.
9 All who sleep in the earth will bow low before God; All who have gone down into the dust will kneel in homage.
And I will live for the LORD; my descendants will serve you.
The generation to come will be told of the Lord, that they may proclaim to a people yet unborn the deliverance you have brought.
(emphasis is mine)
This psalm is the one that Jesus quotes when He is on the cross. During this time of lent (and particularly when we read the story of the Passion at mass on Palm Sunday and Good Friday- ok I know its not 'mass' on Good Friday) hearing this psalm offers me reassurance. One part of me thinks, if this is where Jesus found His inspiration in the greatest time of trial and suffering, then it must have something to offer me. And this Psalm does give us many reassurances. But it continues to remind me of what is most important... to Cry out to God, to Seek refuge in God, to Proclaim God's greatness, and to have Faith in God's mercy and love.
If our God can be the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, what sacrifices do I need to make in my life, to be worthy of God's greatness? If I am to receive Jesus in the Sacraments, how should I prepare my heart, mind, and spirit for Him? And, as a community of faith, what is my responsibility to those around me?