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Posts Tagged ‘despair’


Job 23 and 24: Desire and Terror

Friday, May 24, 2019

Commentary from La Biblia de América: Job continues in his search for a personal encounter with God, both seeking and fearing him; but the judgment of his companions does not speak to his condition.  Job finds himself bereft not because he has broken God’s law in any way.  His sins do not bring him to this spot of desperation; he suffers innocently from circumstances beyond his control.  Yet amid all of this hurt, Job refuses to reject God; indeed, he seeks God all the more with each new wave of pain.  Job actually takes refuge in his suffering, frightened and even terrified, waiting for his end.  He describes an impotence which we ourselves may feel at a time when we are abandoned and have no recourse.  We suffer while the wicked experience success.  A victim of bad luck and injustice, Job experiences a reality too awful to be concealed.  Further footnotes tell us that verses 18 through 25 have appeared here rather than where they may rightly belong – in a previous chapter – perhaps the copyist could not bear the pain and so thought to bring consolation from another place.

This lament of Job guides any and each of us through a wave of pain so intense that it nearly takes one’s breath away.  This level of suffering can only be healed by God . . . and it is upon God that Job calls.

Today’s reading asks us to think about our desire to see and know God . . . face to face.  Job’s unquenched yearning is void of any wish to exact punishment or revenge on anyone or anything.  Job questions.  Job fears.  Yet Job does not leave God perhaps because he knows that God has not left him.

The imagery today describes a dichotomy of longing accompanied by fear.  Job needs to experience God’s presence in his life . . . and he fears that perhaps he will never escape this place of emptiness where the wicked have full sway.  He survives in a twilight world where day and night co-exist, and he fears that the darkness will win out.

As we have observed, perhaps it is for this reason that a later copyist has inserted the words which we know Job believes because they hold truth and because they describe what Job does . . . he refuses to give up, he holds on to hope and he waits.

To him who rises without assurance of his life he gives safety and support.   

When we find ourselves in the pit of misery described by Job, we must remember that the force of our yearning will be met, matched, and exceeded by God’s love . . . for he is life itself.

To him who rises without assurance of his life he gives safety and support.   


A re-post from May 9, 2012.

LA BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA. 8th. Madrid: La Casa de la Biblia, 1994. Print.

For more reflections on the Book of Job click the image above or go to: http://agapegeek.com/category/bible-study/job/

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Isaiah 51When We Feel Abandoned

Saturday, October 20, 2018

These are the first words that greeted me this morning in my email inbox.  They are from the Richard Rohr site to which I subscribe and currently Rohr is sending messages from his newest book, BREATHING UNDER WATER.  The title – and the meditation message below – speaks to anyone who has suffered deeply . . . and to anyone who longs to suffer well.

“Only people who have suffered in some way can save one anotherexactly as the Twelve Step program discovered. Deep communion and dear compassion is formed much more by shared pain than by shared pleasure. Only those who have tried to breathe under water know how important breathing really is, and will never take it for granted again. They are the ones who do not take shipwreck or drowning lightly, who can name “healing” correctly, who know what they are being saved from, and who develop the patience and humility to ask the right questions of God and of themselves.

“You see, only the survivors know the full terror of the passage, the arms that held them through it all, and the power of the obstacles that were overcome. Those who have passed over eventually find a much bigger world of endurance, meaning, hope, self-esteem, deeper and true desire, but most especially, a bottomless pool of love both within and without”.

From BREATHING UNDER WATER: SPIRITUALITY AND THE TWELVE STEPS, pp. 123,124,125 http://cacradicalgrace.org/resources/breathing-under-water

Here we have clear instructions for what to do when we are deeply troubled, for when we believe that we do not fully understand God’s plan, for when we may even feel abandoned by God.

Listen to me . . . we are instructed.  I will help you to breathe under water.  I will sustain you in a world that feels foreign to you.

Look to the rock from which you are hewn . . . God says to us.  You are made in my image.  I love you dearly.  I will never leave you.

Be attentive to me . . . God calls out to us.  I exist through all time and space as do you.  I speak to you now.  I am telling you that you will never fail.

Raise your eyes to the heavens and look at the earth below . . . we are challenged.  Choose life or death.  Choose your own plan or mine. 

Fear not the reproach of others . . . we are cautioned.  Their opinion means nothing in the light of eternity.  Follow the law rather than the whimsical judgment of those who chase after power, status and reputation.

Awake, awake, put on strength . . . God urges us.  I know that you are weary but my burden is light and my shoulders are broad.  I carry many but I long to carry you.

Hear me, you who know justice, you who have my teaching in your heart . . . God does not waver, God does not give up.  I, it is I who comfort you.  I am the Lord you God.  I have put my words into your mouth.  I have shielded you in the shadow of my hand.  I stretched out the heavens; I laid the foundations of the earth.  I am here to rescue you.

So when we are fear-filled, we must remember to ask for the grace, patience, and wisdom to discern God’s hand in all that happens around us.  When we feel abandoned, we must keep the arms of Jesus wrapped round us.  When it seems that all is hopeless, we must abide in the faith that God the Father knows all and keeps his promises.  When we are deeply troubled, we must ask intercession for those who have harmed us and done us damage.  When we feel utterly alone, we rest in the understanding and solace of the Holy Spirit.  And when we are healed . . . we turn to others to pass along the wonder of God’s love.


A re-post from September 17, 2011.

Images from http://www.flippersmack.com/ and http://recdive.com/2010/07/29/the-wonders-of-scuba-diving/

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Job 19Suffering and Rejoicing Well

Friday, March 31, 2017

A Favorite from March 25, 2009.

The Book of Job is the first in the wisdom portion of scripture and it is one of my favorites.  I like the honesty and persistence with which this innocent man speaks.  He has been wronged by Satan, yet retains faith and hope in God.  He asks the questions we all ask; he makes the observations we all make: why do the wicked seem to skate through life without suffering, and why do the innocent suffer?  Each of us has endured hardship as Job does at one time or another; and for this reason his words are so valuable.  Job sinks into the lowest of depths with his despair; yet he soars with great hope and divine love.  This is the gift of his story . . . that he both suffers and rejoices well.

How long will you vex my soul?  At times the suffering is too great, too heavy.

I cry for help; there is no redress.  In our own lives, and in the lives of others, there are moments that ask too much of human strength and endurance.

My brethren have withdrawn from me, and my friends are wholly estranged.  At times we are utterly alone, with no sheltering place, no healing balm.

All my intimate friends hold me in horror; those whom I love have turned against me!  In the human experience, there is no greater punishment than isolation.

Why do you hound me as though you were divine, and insatiably prey on me?  At times we are so low that we descend into pits we did not know existed . . . and this is when we know that something new is arriving.

But as for me, I know that my Vindicator lives, and that he will at last stand forth upon the dust; whom I myself shall see: my own eyes, not another’s shall behold him.  Job understands that it is impossible for us to comprehend the depth, the width, the height or the timelessness of God.  Job – although not content with the mystery of his innocent suffering – accepts that from where he stands he cannot see or know the limitlessness of God or the complexity of his plan.  Job reminds us that each of us suffers.  Each of us stands accused at times when we are innocent.  Since this is so . . . the rest of his story is also true . . . we will be vindicated.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation about the Blessed Mother and her willingness to suffer as an innocent for the good of God’s economy: She neither regretted the past nor wished for the future – she accepted wholeheartedly the magnificent present.  She had found one beautiful pearl, and all she had she gave in order to buy it.  (Mother Marie des Douleurs)

So let us follow the example of Job and the example of Mary.  They understood that they, by entering into the mystery of suffering, were sharing in a sacred gift offered by the God who loves us so much . . . that he offers us his own divinity

Let us enter into today without looking back in anger or looking forward in despair.

Let us gather all that we have and all that we are to make this one purchase, the gift of transformative union where, through suffering, we enter into the world of God’s joy.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 25.3 (2009). Print.  A wonderful resource to suffer well is Marlena Graves’ book, A Beautiful Disaster: Finding Hope in the Midst of Brokenness. For more information, click on the book image. 

Or visit the site A Field Guide for Suffering by clicking on the images above.

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James 5:19-20: Harvest of Hope

Monday, November 2, 2015HarvestLogo

My dear friends . . .

What are we to make of James’ letter to us? How does he frame his closing remarks?

If you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth . . .

And surely we must know someone who is broken or abandoned. And just as surely we will know someone who is full of pride and over-confident.

Don’t write them off . . .

thorn heart bibleThis may be difficult. James has asked us to find a way to communicate with those whose anxiety or pride have put them out of our reach; yet James admonishes us.

Go after them . . .

We have no excuses. James wants to see our faith played out in our works.

Get them back . . .

James wants to see us as wounded healers, as a light in the darkness, as salt for the earth.

And you will have rescued precious lives from destruction . . .

James urges us to bring hope to and out of those who despair and those who shun God.

And you will have prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God . . .

James urges us to look for God’s image in others. He asks that we continue to commit our work and our prayer to God as we struggle to unlock the goodness waiting to rise from so many wounded souls. He asks us to participate fully in God’s outrageous and daring harvest of hope.

Tomorrow, a prayer for harvesting hope.

Use the scripture link to find other versions of these verses from THE MESSAGE. 

 

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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Gerard Seghers: Christ and the Penitents

Gerard Seghers: Christ and the Penitents

Ephesians 2:13

Quite Near

Psalm 13:1: How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?

In yesterday’s Noontime we gathered our prayers and petitions to carry them to the one who holds all the answers. Today we gather ourselves to listen to the Word of God.

Ephesians 2:13: In Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near.

Paul answers our question of how long we must wait for God to appear when he reminds us that Christ answers our plea with unquestioning patience, indomitable mercy and limitless love. Jesus replies swiftly with his own presence, and with his invitation to join him in his union with the creator. Today we gather ourselves to hear the Word of God.

Luke 10:1-9: The Lord Jesus appointed seventy-two other disciples whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers few . . . Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way”.

God answers our petition for help by asking us to trust in the plan laid out for our rescue. Today we gather to accept God’s invitation to join in the vital work of the harvest.

Psalm 94:3: How long shall the wicked, O Lord, how long shall the wicked exult?

We have asked how long our suffering will endure . . . and the response to this question is not a pat answer that tells us how many days or weeks or years or eons we must wait for God’s justice to prevail. A close reading of the Gospels tells us what we already know. In the person of Jesus we have all the answer we might need. In our finite world we look for finite solutions and well-defined answers that content us for today, but that have no place in God’s infinite world. In our apocalyptic view of the world we seek a justice that will measure out punishment and reward as if we were all small children, but God asks us to step into something much bigger than the little window we have on the God’s justice.

Psalm 13:1: How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?

God does not hide from us. God is with us constantly and everywhere in the person of the rescuing Jesus. God does not forget us. God is within and around us in the person of the healing Spirit. God does not lose hope in us. God protects and guides, cajoles and upholds, saves and teaches, heals and loves us more than we can understand. Despite our faults and infidelities, God persists in waiting, calling, blessing, forgiving and loving.

Psalm 74:9: We do not see our signs; there is no longer any prophet, nor is there any among us who knows how long.

There is no need to ask how long; there is no need to despair for we already have God’s response . . . the surety that God dwells within us, asking for our trust and fidelity, forgiving our missteps and misgivings, calling us to great love and great mercy. In our darkest moment and in our deepest grief . . . God has not been distant or hiding. God has been quite near.

Let us move into the world around us . . . and act in a way that confirms our trust in God.

Wealthy80_WEB190115Recently, Oxfam produced a study indicating that next year one percent of the world’s population will hold more than half of the world’s wealth. The hungry, the impoverished, the homeless may well ask How Long of God as they manage their daily survival. Read the two views at the links below, and reflect on how each of us might be the presence of God to the marginalized.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jan/19/global-wealth-oxfam-inequality-davos-economic-summit-switzerland

There are voices that oppose the view expressed above

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jan/23/davos-wpp-martin-sorrell-equality-prosperity

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

psalm 32Psalm 32

Time of Need

I kept it secret and my frame was wasted.

I groaned all the day long for night and day your hand was heavy upon me.

Indeed my strength was dried up by the summer’s heat.

We do not know but we can imagine that the prophet Jeremiah prayed the psalms from his prison cell or from the bottom of the miry cistern. Chains alone did not stop him from speaking. Scorn and mockery could not hold back the words he knew he must deliver and the actions he knew he must take. If he intoned Psalm 32 it may have been bitterly for he could not put an end to his punishment by acknowledging his sin or by recanting an evil act; or it may have been joyfully for he also knew that God was his only place of safety. Jeremiah, the innocent, bemoaned his reality as he suffered at the hands of corrupt and unjust leaders; but Jeremiah, the prophet, understood the message of hope in this prayer.

So let every good man pray to you in the time of need.

The floods of water may reach high but him they shall not reach.

You are my hiding place, O Lord; you save me from distress.

You surround me with cries of deliverance.

In our moment of stress, God replies through the voice of the psalmist.

I will instruct you and show you the way you should walk, give you counsel and watch over you.

Do not be senseless like horses or mules; with bit and bridle their temper is curbed, else they will not come to you.

In our time of need, God speaks to us today.

Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.

Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you just; exult all you upright of heart.

When the weight of the world is too much to balance, let us give our burden of despair to God, and be glad in the hope, and grace and love of the Lord.

Visit the Overwhelmed By Grace post on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/2013/10/20/overwhelmed-by-grace/

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Tuesday, March 25

Museum of Biblical Art, NY: The Return of the Prodigal Son - Artist unknown

Museum of Biblical Art, NY: The Return of the Prodigal Son – Artist unknown

Amos 9:8-15

Messianic Perspective

Amos brings us God’s Words; he shows us the world’s Woes; he paints for us his intense Visions. If we give in to despair we miss God’s message. If we walk away in pride we miss God’s promise. If we become impatient or irritable we miss God’s grace. If we practice greed we miss feeling God’s love. Today we have the opportunity to count ourselves among the pebbles God sifts from the debris of our selfishness. We are given another chance to rise up out of the ashes of our willfulness.  We are given another season to mend breaches and to rebuild foundations on the days of old.

Jesus tells us this story of the lost son who returns home to his father after having squandered all his father had given to him.  So [the son] got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son”. But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again, he lost and now is found”.  So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:20-24)

Let us also return to the creator who is running toward us with open arms, who is waiting for our word to begin the celebration.

For an interesting article from the National Catholic Reporter in June 2011, on how theologians re-visit the famous parable of the forgiving father,, and how we may be called to forgive church structures, click on the image above or go to: http://ncronline.org/news/peace-justice/theologians-revisit-prodigal-son 

For more on the image of God’s Sieve, go to the Mini-Noontime posted on September 26, 2013 at: https://thenoontimes.com/2013/09/26/the-sieve/

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

sunset-on-the-beach-desktop-wallpaper-sand-boats[1]Amos 9:8-9

The Sieve

But I will not destroy the house of Jacob completely, says the Lord.  For see, I have given the command to sift the house of Israel among all the nations, as one sifts with a sieve, letting no pebble fall to the ground.

The imagery in these verses recalls the Gospel metaphor of the fisherman’s net that draws up many from which the faithful will be chosen.  The rest will be tossed back in to the sea to a fate that is not described for us.  It also reminds us of the many farming images in which the chaff is separated from the wheat, the sheep from the goats.  In this Messianic epilogue to the Amos prophecy we finally see the hope we have awaited.  At last we know for certain that all is not lost. Redemption is at hand. God’s goodness and light and grace are offered to those who mourn and despair while they witness and wait.

Pebbles-on-Sand-40x30-4250[1]God says: Close your eyes and imagine the wide, vast expanse of a sandy beach that runs into rolling waves.  Picture my hands holding an enormous sieve.  Envision this sieve burrowing deep into the sand.  See how carefully I tilt the strainer to look for the precious pebbles I know are buried in the pit of this filter.  Each tiny stone is known to me.  Every nugget is a gem for my crown.  It is these small jewels I will seek endlessly, never losing hope that you are there, never giving up from the strain of the work, never forsaking or abandoning you, never letting even one of you drop to the ground. 

Today’s Noontime reminds us that God seeks us more ardently than we seek God.  These verses recall for us the depth and breadth and length of God’s love.  This final perspective that Amos opens to us brings us up from the valleys of our despair and into the heights of rejoicing.  Amidst the billions of grains of sand God has an eye and an ear poised to catch each one of us in the great winnowing sieve of God’s love.

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