I was watching the news this morning -- something I don't often do because there are too many troubling stories and not enough uplifting ones. The plight of the Japanese, and people involved in wars, were the focus of the show I was watching. As I thought about all the disturbing news, I wondered if God watches to see how we respond to the needs of others.
How do we respond to suffering, especially when it seems to be unending? Do we ignore it if it does not directly affect us? Do we hunker down with all our stuff, fearing that the world is coming to an end? Or, do we help relieve the suffering in any way we can? As I was thinking about all this, these words from last Sunday's readings came to mind.
Some people believe that pain and suffering, even natural disasters are caused by God. The Bible sometimes describes a God of wrath who punishes people for their iniquities. All of Job's friends were certainly convinced that he must have done something wrong to be the recipient of so much misery. I too have sometimes wondered if a particular person was suffering because of their distance from God. It is so tempting to judge between good and evil!! Adam and Eve are not the only ones who want to be God. I correct myself when I catch these thoughts, but it takes effort. For me, it takes remembering the teachings of Jesus:
"Judge not, lest you be judged."
"Only God can judge."
"Love one another as I have loved you."
Jesus taught us to replace judgment with love. When Jesus met suffering, instead of ignoring it, he attended to it and he offered healing. When Jesus saw masses of hungry people, he fed them. When Jesus came upon disease or disabilities, which were thought by many to be signs of God's punishment for sin, he had compassion. He touched their wounds and healed them. When Jesus met outcasts, even people who had sinned, he sat down and ate with them and taught them about God's love. He valued everyone, the faithful and the lost; the Jew, the Samaritan, and the Gentile.
For God so loved the world that he sent his Son, who showed us how to love as God loves, so that everyone who believes him shall have eternal life. Not so that we would be condemned, or learn to condemn, but so that we would know God's love, and learn to love. So that the world might be saved.
Thank you, Dear God, for loving us so much. Thank you for not giving up on us. Thank you for being so monumentally patient as we learn to follow your ways. Love always, Pam