I have been feeling particularly weary lately. I think I’ve had a little too much news.
But it’s Thursday and it’s time to write a blog post, and if you wait for inspiration you will discover that you will hardly ever write anything. So I opened up MS Word, and I sat down to write.
I sat, and I sat, and I sat.
My butt hurt from sitting and it was close to 1pm so I got up and ate lunch.
Then I sat back down in front of the computer and…well, I sat and sat some more.
I think you know where this is going.
I think part of my problem is that there is so little to say that isn’t a rehash of the last few weeks: I’m tired. I’m overscheduled. (No kidding Tina, tell us something we don’t already know.) I’m weary of the situation with my parents. I have too many people that I’m trying to take care of: family, friends, parishioners, clients…parents. And then to frost the crap cupcake life seems to have handed me, I listen to the news.
Hurricanes. Total destruction. Mass shootings. Cancer. Death.
You know what they say, don’t you? When life serves you crap cupcakes…
I’m at a loss here, people! What do you do when life serves you crap cupcakes??
I decided that a little prayer might shake me out of my doldrums and put me into a better place. I bowed my head to pray and found myself sitting in silence with nothing to say. I cried, and I think my heart had a few things to say, but my mouth didn’t have one good word to speak.
That’s when God encouraged me to get out my Bible and play the lottery.
You know, Bible lottery…when you open the Bible to a random spot and just start reading to see what the Lord needs to say to you right now.
I went to grab my Study Bible from seminary because it holds so many good memories for me, but for some reason The Message just would not let go of the Study Bible’s jacket and so I decided God must be giving me a nudge and I grabbed The Message. I let it drop open and started reading the first thing that my eye fell on:
“Things are going to happen so fast your head will swim, one thing fast on the heels of the other. You won’t be able to keep up. Everything will be happening at once.”
Yes, Lord, that is definitely how I feel. It has been a horrible time, these last 45 days, and one terrible thing has happened after another. My nation is a mess. My friends are suffering and some are dying. My parents aren’t doing well at all. There has been too much destruction and too much death and too many tragedies. When does it stop?
I returned to my reading:
“Things are going to happen so fast your head will swim, one thing fast on the heels of the other. You won’t be able to keep up. Everything will be happening at once—and everywhere you look, blessings! Blessings like wine pouring off the mountains and hills. I’ll make everything right again for my people Israel.”
This is the book of Amos, a prophetic book from the Old Testament. Amos spends the first 9½ chapters of the book telling the people of Israel that they are in major trouble, that God is letting the nation fall into ruin because of how greedy and unjust the Israelites have become; they utterly disregard God’s laws. Then Amos spends the last half of the 9th chapter sharing God’s promise to rebuild everything and lift His people back up.
Reading this really hits me where I live.
I’m not trying to say that God is punishing the US for its greed, overconsumption, and the widespread injustice that exists in our land…although I understand how some people can think such a thing. Personally, I don’t believe that God ‘punishes’ us because that doesn’t reflect a loving God and truthfully, God doesn’t need to punish us. We have free will and our behaviors have consequences; we do a pretty good job of punishing ourselves, if you know what I mean.
Much closer to truth would be to say that everything that is happening right now is just happening, randomly. We may have contributed to some of the cause by ignoring climate change, or by refusing to deny average citizens access to assault rifles, but in the end…bad things happen because…LIFE. Life is a mix of good and bad, of great joy and tragedy, of celebration and grief. And no matter how righteous you are, you will suffer loss and destruction just like everyone else. “…He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.” (Matt 5:45)
No matter what the cause of all our pain, God looks down on the destruction and suffering that envelops us, and speaks words of comfort:
I’ll make everything right again for my people Israel.
They’ll rebuild their ruined cities
They’ll plant vineyards and drink good wine.
They’ll work their gardens and eat fresh vegetables
And I’ll plant them, plant them on their own land.
They’ll never again be uprooted from the land I’ve given them.
God, your God, says so. (Amos 9:14-15)
And suddenly I don’t feel so weary anymore. This is a big promise that God has made, a promise made to the whole world, not just to US citizens. This is a promise to immigrants and refugees; to Christians, Jews, and Muslims; to men in power and men living on the street; to women and children who have never known safety even in their own homes; to nations glowing with peace and prosperity and nations sagging under the burden of war and poverty.
This is a promise to me and to you, as we stand here holding the crap cupcakes that life has given us thinking that this is all we can hope for, that this is as good as it gets. It gets WAY better than crap cupcakes, I swear it does.
“You won’t be able to keep up. Everything will be happening at once—and everywhere you look, blessings! Blessings like wine pouring off the mountains and hills.” Amos 9:13
If you spend your day staring at your crap cupcake, like will seem crappy indeed. Look to the mountains and the hills my friend, and pray for the blessings to flow like wine. Then put down your crap cupcake, and go talk to your neighbor and see if they need any help. Or you can pick up your shovel, or your pocketbook, or your flood/cleaning bucket *** and start doing what you can to help with all the suffering across our nation. And if you are too exhausted and worn to help anyone else because of your own suffering and destruction, cry out to the Lord and then ask someone with skin on to help you.
Life may be one giant crap cupcake, but that cupcake isn’t bigger than we are.
God, on the other hand, is!