but you do not answer;
and by night,
but find no rest.
Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the
praises of Israel.
2 Chronicles 21:1-23:21
Three bad rulers--Jehoram, Ahaziah, Athaliah. They walk in the ways of Israel (considered an indictment in Chronicles). The Lord inflicted Jehoram with what sounds like Crohn's Disease to me, and saw that the other two were assassinated. But, even though the rulers were wicked, God continued to care for Judah as heirs of David. God's faithfulness is stronger than human sinfulness.
Paul has been reminding the Romans that you don't have to be a Jew to be a Christian. "Of course, God has not rejected the Jews. Look at me, for example," he says.
Now, he reminds them that you don't have to be a Christian to be included in God's family. God's mercy depends on God.
Every once in a while I read again from Krister Stendahl's Final Account, Paul's Letter to the Romans. Here's an excerpt that applies to today's reading:
Not until after Constantine did Christians get the itch to conquer the world for Christ. They thought of themselves as a peculiar people, as a light and as salt, witnessing and letting the chips fall wherever they may....Psalm 22:1-18
There are two ways of thinking about God. One way is to imagine a God who asks, first thing every morning, "What are the statistics on the saved?" Another is to have a God who asks, first thing, "Has there been any progress for the kingdom?" These are two distinct theologies. Paul's theology was the latter. He saw the mystery of God's workings not as a kind of universalism, but as the faithfulness of a new witnessing people....
One of the discussions I remember from some theology class was the classic problem of how God could be all good and all powerful and at the same time we humans were suffering. Trying to solve this, we came up with quesions like "Did we deserve every bad thing that happened?" or "Was the bad thing we were experiencing going to turn out to be a good thing after all?"
However we frame our answers to our inquiry into the nature of God, we who are faithful hold on the knowledge (hope? faith?) that yes, God is all-powerful and all-good.
But, sometimes, we feel abandoned. We can pray "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Even Jesus felt abandoned--remember Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34. Yet, even in that sense of forsakenness, we can turn only to God. O my God, "I cry by day ... and by night...."
The righteous walk in integrity--
happy are the children that follow them.
Prayer for Today: O Lord, in times of despair, remind us that you are with us, that you offer us support. And, in all times, inspire us to behave as people who are so cared for should behave. Amen.