Faith to See Us Through – Br. David Vryhof
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I don’t know what keeps you going these days. The recent mass shooting of 19 students and 2 adults at the Robb Elementary School in Uvulde, Texas, was another punch in the gut, coming, as it did, just 10 days after ten Black people were shot to death at their neighborhood supermarket in Buffalo, New York. Both mass shootings were carried out by 18 year-olds, with legally purchased assault weapons. We are just five months into this calendar year and already we have witnessed 214 mass shootings in this country. Our leaders cannot seem to find a way to put an end to it. Other nations have found ways to stop the senseless killing of innocent human beings, but we cannot.
We are suffering. Handcuffed by partisan politics, unable to take any effective action, completely out of patience with sentiments like ‘our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who died,’ and sick to death of the senseless killings, we… are… hurting.
Century after century, generation after generation, we human beings continue to find endless ways to inflict harm upon one another. Suffering – so much of it completely senseless – seems to be woven into the very fabric of our existence; none of us escapes its effects.
Today we read about Jesus, a teacher and healer and messenger of God’s love, facing his final hours before his enemies put him to death. Even when his “Father” seems silent, he finds the courage to resist despair and to remain faithful to the end. His faith is unshakeable. He trusts in God, even when he cannot be certain of what awaits him.
We hear too the words of encouragement and hope addressed to an early Christian community, a community undergoing persecution for its faith. The author insists that even now members of this small band of believers have a “living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” and “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading.” Because of this, they can rejoice “even if now for a little while [they] must suffer various trials.” Like Jesus, they can trust in God, even when they cannot be certain of what lies ahead.
In the same way, we too can claim an unshakeable faith. The problems we face are enormous and seem insoluble. But we have faith in a God of love and of power, the God who raised Jesus from the dead, and we believe that, in the end, nothing will thwart God’s purposes or cut us off from God’s love. No matter how dangerous or dismal the future seems to be, we continue to believe. And it is this determination to believe and to put our whole trust in God that will give us strength to carry on, to not give up, to keep ourselves from sliding into despair and cynicism. It is this faith that will empower us to keep going, to keep working, to keep doing everything we can think of to do to make our world a safer and better place.
Listen to the words of I Peter: “Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him.” Even when God’s ways are hidden from us, and God seems to be silent in the face of our trouble, we hold fast, believing and trusting in the goodness and power of God, and confident that God’s love will win out over evil.
Never stop loving. Never stop believing. Never stop trusting. Work tirelessly. And never, ever give up.
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I have often wondered why, in his oneness with the Father, Jesus cried “Why have you forsaken me?” from the cross. I believe now that to be fully human, to share completely in the our experience, Jesus needed to know the abandonment we often feel. These are dark days, as well as nights, for the soul. Thanks, Br. David, for holding out to us a glimmer of light.
Thank you Brother David, I need that reassurance this morning.
I am out of patience with my phrases, but I keep saying them. I guess I will never give up. Your encouragement helps. Thank you.
Well said, thank you, Br. David.
Thank you,Brother David, Anne