March 23, 2020 In the Midst of Absence - Father Michael's Words to Live By
“Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12)
In the midst of living our lives and enjoying life to the fullest – no doubt, we’ve all painfully experienced the heartbreak of the tragic and untimely death of a friend or loved one.
At such critical times in life – there are those who question God’s presence in the midst of their darkness and pain. For many – it almost seems as though God is “absent” when they need him most.
IN THE MIDST OF ABSENCE:
This experience of absence, sadly, is repeated itself over and over again in the ravaged testimonies of those who struggle to hold on to faith, or those who have lost faith altogether. For those who live in the midst of absence too often experience a cruel vacancy.
The words of Job, ancient in origin, speak the same language of absence experienced by many today: “Behold, I go forward, but He is not there, And backward, but I cannot perceive Him; When He acts on the left, I cannot behold Him; He turns on the right, I cannot see Him.” ~ Job 23:8-9
The story of Job is at least in part a story of God’s absence. While the narrator of the story and the readers of the story know the beginning and the end, Job finds himself in the silent middle struck down by tragedy. His story painfully reminds us of the mystery that in our moments of great need, God is too often missing. Job’s cry is our cry, “Oh that I knew where I might find Him that I might come to his seat” (Job 23:3). Job clings tenaciously to the hope that he would find God and find a just God in his case. “I am not silenced by the darkness,” Job proclaims, “nor deep gloom which covers me” (23:17).
Like the anguished Job, Mother Teresa experienced the profound pain of the absence of God in her life as she ministered to those largely absent from the radar of compassion and care. She herself was a light, but she experienced little light in her own heart and life. She was indeed a light in the darkness, but she experienced little of the illumination of God’s comforting presence in her own dark existence.
And yet, the paradox of her life reminds us that the experience of God’s absence need not lead us to the darkness of despair, but can propel us to embody God’s presence to others who grope for God in the darkness. And perhaps, as we give the gift of presence to others, we will experience God anew, just as Job did: “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees Thee.” ~ Job 42:5
THE GOOD NEWS: We can be certain that God will give us the strength and resources we need to live through the present global pandemic known as COVID-19 and also through any situation in life that he ordains.
The will of God will never take us where the grace of God cannot sustain us. ~ Billy Graham
Have a safe and healthy week,