Paul stood up and began to speak: “The God of this people Israel made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm God led them out of it. For about forty years God put up with them in the wilderness.”
– Acts 13:16-18, excerpts (NRSV)
I often wonder why God puts up with us.
We’re terribly wasteful – with the planet, with one another, with life. We’re dreadfully self-centered – in our pride, in our needs, even in our shame. We’re easily frightened – by what is new, by what is unknown, by what is evil, and (puzzlingly) by what is good.
What kind of deity has patience for such behavior, generation after generation?
“A loving God,” is the right answer, of course. I still know my Sunday school lessons. But my lingering dissatisfaction with the right answer suggests that I’m asking the wrong question.
What kind of people continue such behavior, generation after generation?
People in pain. People in pain because of evil, and people causing pain out of evil. People carrying the unhealed pain of previous generations. People jealous of the healing others have found. People raging against everything and everyone except the pain itself.
When my kids were in elementary school, I learned to recognize that a sour attitude at home in the evening meant they had poured all their energy into keeping their composure during the school day, only melting down into a tantrum at home where it was safe to do so. For forty years in the wilderness, the ancient Israelites raged and wrestled against God, finally releasing generations of pain that they had kept tightly concealed while living under Pharaoh’s oppression.
And God put up with them.
Not because God is patient with pain. But because God is patient with healing.
Prayer: Put up with me a little longer, God, in this wilderness of healing.
written for the Daily Devotional
Sun, rise and welcome the new day I have dreaded
Love, rise and stand in the gap of my silent fears
I watch the sunrise because I long for your warmth
River, rise and carry away this ache of sorrow
Love, rise and wash over me with wonder
I come to the water because I miss you
Song, rise and swell my heart with stubborn hope
Love, rise and free my tongue from its mantra of shame
I brave the song because I need a lullaby
Wilderness, rise and strip death bare of its lush ivy
Love, rise and stretch toward life with joyful growth
I wait beneath the tree because I am lost
Moon, rise and invite in the rest I have resisted
Love, rise and baptize my skin with your blessing
Praise the LORD from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps; wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds! - Psalm 148:7, 10 (NRSV) Listening to a 45 RPM vinyl as a child, I learned from the Irish Rovers why there are no unicorns in the world: they...
"Let there be rest for the weary, O God Most High, rest and peace to the brokenhearted, peace and pleasure for the despondent, and let freedom come like an angel to the earth." So sing the stars and constellations, the leviathan from its depths and the dragon from its...
What we have confined, O Love, you have exploded. What we have defined, O Love, you have confounded. What we have constrained, O Love, you have released. What we have diminished, O Love, you have overflowed. What we have cast in stone, O Love, you have made to dance....
Let this breath be an insight into your glory and this flesh be alive with your joy -- for who else is so powerful yet so merciful as to be revealed through me for the sake of blessing? It is the same One whose name is told through generations and whispered in...
How long, O Peace, will we hold one another hostage?How long will we demand endless penalty for every debt? "Make straight and wide a path in the wilderness so that all might travel safely in God's presence,"said the prophet -- but no, we insist, it can't be so easy....
O God, the nations have defiled your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins. They have given the bodies of your servants to the birds of the air for food. - Psalm 79:1-2 (NRSV) The bleakness of early Advent – these first few days when the lectionary readings...
The Lord reigns! Let the earth rejoice! Clouds and thick darkness are all around the Holy One. Fire goes before the Lord, consuming adversaries on every side. God’s lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the...
On that day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the Israelites, Joshua spoke to the Lord; and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon; and Moon, in the valley of Aijalon.” And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took...
Not me, O Life, but us. Not mine, O Life, but ours. As far as the eastern horizon, as far as the western sea, all that is and all that can be. Not us or them, O Life, but every. Not us or theirs, O Life, but all's. From the first wisp of dust to its final sighing...