Joy in the Morning. Again.

Joy in the Morning. Again. May 21, 2013

           Dear God,

                   What the hell…??

                   Thanks in advance for your quick reply.

            Sincerely, Those of us who spend our days telling everybody how good you are.

If you wake up with this prayer on your heart on a day like today, you are not alone. Nor are you unfaithful, a heathen, a blasphemer, or a heretic.  In fact, if you are a person who goes around with all-things-Holy on the brain, most of the time, it is only natural that God is the first target of your grief, anger, and utter disbelief when something goes horribly wrong. We can doubt and question; we can curse, we can shout, we can call names.

And God can take it.

This is the important part to remember, I think, for the sake of our faith and our sanity: that God’s ego is not so fragile as to be affronted by our anger and grief. Nor does God’s reputation need defending, least of all by us. Nor does God somehow abandon us, stop loving us, or cast us into outer darkness when we find ourselves in a prayerful place saying ‘how could you let this happen?’

I know–in my theologian’s heart of hearts, and from the direct experience of my own faith journey–that God does not enact or enable tragedy. But it is sure good to know that if I just need to be pissed, I serve a God who can take the brunt of all the chaos of my many ‘feelings’ and still love me tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that.

So I wake up this morning to remind myself that God does not require my articulate defenses, any more than God welcomes credit from the Driscoll/Piper/Robertson machine. “God did this because of the gays! And the women in the workplace! And because the new 90210 got cancelled!” (That’s the one Mark Driscoll is thinking, but not saying out loud. Betcha). No, I don’t think God appreciates one bit being tagged as the instigator of events that end with dead children.

Thing is–and I sure hate reckoning this with myself, but here goes–those guys can say appalling things about God forever, and God will still love each of them tomorrow, too. And the day after that. And probably even the day after that.

And that’s where I start cussing at God all over again, right?

I really hate when those guys say dumb stuff, and I wind up spending my day trying to un-do their damage. But, as much as I feel called to articulate a compassionate, intelligent, and authentic faith to counter-act other harmful brands of gospel…God asks only that I preach good news in my time and place; that I serve my neighbors; and that I try to be like Jesus. That’s a big lot of work, but it’s a whole lot simpler than some days I make it out to be.

Having settled within myself that God does not need to be defended by me, I can go back to my own personal, internal conflict. You know, on days like this when the news makes your head and your heart hurt. On days like this, when our good news seems so small, in the wake of such heartbreak.

Then I do what I do when I’ve run out of things to say… I read some Psalms. And I am reminded–swiftly and powerfully–that I am not the first person in the history of the world to look at God and say, ” *^&%#@ , really?” Turns out, scripture is full of people shouting the Hebrew (and Greek) equivalent of “WT**, GOD??” Even Jesus did it a time or two.

And scripture is also full of God responding–again and again–in the wake of a storm.

I know some guys who missed that part… about God NOT being in the wind; NOT being in the fire; NOT being in the earthquake. But really, God doesn’t need me to point that out to them. God enacts and enables good news, every single day. We only have to be watching for it.

God is in the hands of rescue workers and teachers, pulling survivors from heaps of ruin; God is in a woman’s rejoicing at finding her beloved dog; God is in the church that opens its doors for displaced neighbors; God is grieving with stricken parents; God is in relief efforts– like the Week of Compassion–that show up immediately in the wake of disaster; God is even in the anger of faithful people who–like God’s own heart–can hardly bear to witness such suffering, but will share it just the same.

God is there. Good, present, and faithful; whether I say so or not, whether the other guys blame the gays or not,  whether we have eyes to see or ears to hear… God is the peace that stills the storm; the shepherd’s crook in the valley of death; the lyric poem in response to our shouting and cursing; the joy that comes in the morning, and the love that will not let us go.

*When you give to the Week of Compassion, nearly every cent goes directly to people in need. Your giving reminds others that God shows up–even, and especially, in the storm.


Photo by Elisabeth Gawne

“The Lord is my light and my salvation–whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life–of whom shall I be afraid?”






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