Yet Will I Rejoice

Readings: Psalm 126; Habakkuk 3:13-19; Matthew 21:28-32

Though the fig tree does not blossom and no fruit is on the vines;

though the produce of the olive fails and the field yields no food;

though the flock is cut off from the fold, and there is no herd in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the God of my salvation.

God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,

and makes me tread upon the heights.

Habakkuk 3:17-19 NRSV

Habakkuk was a prophet in the late seventh and early sixth centuries BCE.   It was a time of great turmoil in Jerusalem and of many great injustices in the world.  In many ways like in our own world, the question arises, “Where is God’s justice?”  Why do the poor suffer while the powerful seem unpunished for their misdeeds?  Why do bad things happen to good people?

Perhaps we ask the wrong questions.  Is it up to us to criticize God?  Or is it possible that there is something else going on. Perhaps we have a role in bringing God’s kingdom into our world. Over and over again, in both the Old and New Testaments, we are reminded that our God wills a world of righteousness and justice, a world with compassion for the poor and the sick, a world of peace and love. Sometimes we are depressed by what we see in the events of our time. We feel helpless to make things better. Habakkuk foresaw great troubles coming to Jerusalem in the form of warring nations.  He knew that times were going to be rough.  “YET I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!”

There are times in our own lives when we feel helpless. We do not have control over what is happening. Jobs are lost. Relationships fail. Illness consumes us or someone we love. YET, in all of the sadness and violence, God is beside us, loving us, guiding us, helping us. As we look back on some of the dark times in our life, so often we see God at work picking up the pieces for us and helping us get through to a brighter side of the darkness.

And there is the answer: God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, with us always.  In the darkness or the light, as Julian of Norwich reminds us All shall be well.

A Prayer from St. Augustine: Lord Jesus, let our minds rest in your Word, so that when doubt and grief would overwhelm us, faith will open our eyes to see your hand at work in our life and enable us to turn toward the future with hope and toward each other in perfect charity.

Marge O’Brien wrote these words in 2014. She died a few months ago, leaving behind a world better for her life. I was blessed by her friendship, and I am grateful for the words she leaves behind.

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Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

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