The Unredeemed Reaping of an Imperfect World

Life Notes—September 16, 2010

“The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.  For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt.  I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me.  Is there no balm in Gilead?  Is there no physician there?  Why then has the health of my poor people not been restored?”  Jeremiah 8:20-9:1

“For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt.”  This is Jeremiah’s Old Testament lament. 

A number of years ago a co-worker lost her five year old daughter to meningitis.  It happened quickly to this healthy, fun-loving little girl.  Her fever spiked, she was taken to the hospital, and she breathed her final earthly breath.  Amanda and her father loved singing songs together. Her parents asked if I would play and sing some of those songs at her funeral, knowing her father could not.  I thought of my own daughter, only a year younger than Amanda at the time.  After the service I went to my car and wept.  That evening I held my daughter a little tighter and a little longer and wondered how such indescribable sorrow could fall on such good people…

“For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt.”  

Today, my formerly health and fitness-conscious mother is wheelchair and bed-ridden, following a stroke that left her unable to express all but her most basic thoughts. 

“For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt.” 

9-11. Cancer.  Katrina.  Divorce.  Darfur.  Traffic accident.  Holocaust.  Heart-rending, life-changing words that lie in wait, never far from our everyday existence.

“For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt.” 

Where is God in tragedy?  We hurt.  Friends and family hurt.  Our world hurts.  And where is God?  Jeremiah wrestled with this question ages ago; we wrestle with it still today.  The minister conducting Amanda’s funeral said, “I believe the moment Amanda breathed her final breath, the first heart to break was God’s.”  God does not create horrors.  They are the unredeemed reaping of an imperfect world.  Where is God in our hurting?  Where God has always been: in the hearts and hands of God’s people, moving and healing and being present by and through them.  God is present when we sing for the father who cannot; when we share what we have with those with nothing; when we pray for those who cannot pray for themselves.  God lives in and expresses through us. 

Tom’s sermon downtown will be “Where is God?” based on Jeremiah 8:18-9:1.  Life worship begins at 9:40 in Brady hall.  Traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the sanctuary.  West campus contemporary worship is at 9:30; Mitch continues his sermon series “John Wesley’s Greatest Hits,” with the cut, “STREngth,” on Mark 12:28-34. 

Come home to worship this Sunday.  Strugglers welcome!

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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