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God cares

Two Sundays ago – Proper 28, the Gospel Luke 21:5-19. I always wonder why the readings are repeated so close together and what is the rationale. Is there no other reading that could express the same thoughts? I am still trying to figure it out. In the meanwhile, this passage aptly describes our world.


We live in a Jamaica where we fear gunmen and thugs, harsh and cruel employers, and a system designed it seems to be unhelpful, and frustrating, Luke assures us through the words of Jesus that we are in God’s care. Using the message paraphrase, Jesus says in verses 18-19 “every detail of your body and soul—even the hairs of your head!—is in my care; nothing of you will be lost. Staying with it—that’s what is required.” Jesus says “Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry; you’ll be saved.”


A favourite phrase of mine has always been “Life is hard and then we die”. Life isn’t easy! Many times it seems to be one calamity after another. It may not always be personal, but one always seems to be tending to a difficult situation. This properly describes what is happening in Jamaica and the world today. Extreme weather conditions, earthquakes and hurricanes, famine, epidemics, great wars between nations, persecutions, domestic disputes, and broken friendships. Look around us! The incidents seem to be increasing every day and we are in a quandary of what to do to change it. But God cares even in these uncertainties. What is required is that we stay with it. Don’t run away or hide, but go through it boldly knowing God has our back.


In biblical times, language about the end times appealed to the oppressed and the marginalized. Lives were being disrupted then, just as lives are being disrupted now. There were poor people who were being mistreated, infirmed persons with no one to take care of them. There were abuses of all kinds. The Bible has several examples. Using end times or apocalyptic language gave hope and comfort. It said to those who were suffering personal or community-inflicted hardships, or any kind of injustice that the suffering would not last forever. A time will come when things will be better. It gives us hope that this too shall pass. Whatever the difficulties, things will get better. In the words of Litle Annie, the sun will come out tomorrow. Things will get better and God says God has your back. God is with you God is carrying you through.


The passage also says in verse 13 that we must be prepared for persecution and injustice. And we don’t have to be afraid in these difficult situations. Jesus will give us the words whenever we have to make Christ-like decisions. Jesus holds our hands as we look at life from the point of view of 'the love of neighbor as self'.


For me, we are always in end times. Each generation has its own injustices and calamities to face. Sometimes it is remnants from times past, like the deep-seated consequences of slavery which we have come to see as normal – racism and classism, dysfunctional families. Focusing on the end times I fear causes us to give up the everlasting Hope we have of God bringing us through our difficult times. It leads many to believe that suffering in silence is noble because when we go to heaven we will be rewarded for our suffering. It causes us to be so “heavenly-minded that we are of no earthly good”. It leads us to inaction which is not the Jesus' way of looking out for others or for living a transformed life. Thus we should be looking at end times teaching in a Jesus-shaped way, that is in light of our life experiences.


Hard times remind us to be humble. It reminds us that we are interdependent and that we don't walk through life alone. Even if physically we are alone, the creator God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit walk with us. I want to suggest that God always guides. Hard times serve to bring us closer to God. May we have the grace in these difficult times to rely always on God, on the Jesus way and Jesus' words. May we always keep Hope alive that things will get better and that God says God has our backs. God is with you. God is carrying you through uncertain times.

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