Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Comparative Goodness

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
    and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
    may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job 1:21

During times of difficulty it is so easy to ask, “why me?” That is because we can always think, in our “comparative goodness” theology, that there is somebody far worse than me that deserve this more than I do. Yes, I’ve sinned, but I know people who are way worse sinners that I am. So when trouble,
sickness, and pain comes our way what we are really saying when we say “why me” is “why not them?”

When I got sick, I was in pain. A lot of pain. The kind of pain that makes you not fully aware of everything you are saying. The kind of pain where you don’t want anyone or anything to touch you. The kind of pain where it hurts to stand up, sit down, lie down, or walk around. There was no comfort. No escaping the presence of the pain. During that time of pain all I could think of to say was a breath prayer that has become part of my daily life for the past dozen years. I just kept praying, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Even in pain I knew that because of the sin that was unleashed upon the world I was just as likely to be the recipient of the unintended consequences as the next person.

I, too, have been guilty of asking God, “why me?” on occasion. What I am learning to ask, however, is “why not me?” When the torrent of suffering was unleashed upon the world. When the wages of sin, which is death, flooded our existence why do we think that we should live consequence exempt lives? In a world where genocide happens, where children are starving, and we flood our bodies with chemicals why do we think that the sin of the world will never penetrate our lives?

If you take the Bible seriously you see that even the saints of God were affected by the sin of the world. We see Lot losing his home because of the sin of the city. We see Paul being beaten, shipwrecked, and eventually martyred because of the sin of the presiding government. History even shows us the sins of our brothers and sisters where some of the greatest atrocities were done in the name of Jesus. Yet, still, we think that we should be exempt from the wages of sin. We are not. “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”

I am going to die. Dying is part of living. Actually dying makes living all the more precious, No, I’m not angry at God because I am dying. I am thankful that, as the funeral liturgy reminds us, “even as we die, yet shall we live.” Today I choose to live, even though I’m dying.

Gracious God who gave us life, help us cherish life, even as we are dying. You who did not spare your only begotten Son, but allowed Him to come that we might have life, abundant life in this life, and life eternal, grant that we might live as those who are dying and die as those who will live eternally. Amen. 

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