And I will dwell!

Chapter 30

Good Monday Morning to this week 29 of 2020

I’m still reading the book “When bad things happen to good people”  Here a few quotes:

“To believe in God is not to affirm His existence. To believe in God means to trust God, to rely on God to be there for you when you are afflicted by despair, to light your path when you are uncertain as to what to do.” Harold S. Kushner

I find God, not in the tests that life imposes on us, but in the ability of ordinary people to rise to the challenge, to find within themselves qualities of soul, qualities of courage they did not know they had until the day they needed them. God does not send the problem, the illness, the accident, the hurricane, and God does not take them away when we find the right words and rituals with which to beseech Him. Rather, God sends us strength and determination of which we did not believe ourselves capable so that we can deal with, or live with, problems that no one can make go away.

It isn’t God’s job to make sick people healthy. That’s the doctors’ job? God’s job is to make sick people brave, and in my experience, that’s something God does really well. Prayer, as I understand it, is not a matter of begging or bargaining. It is the act of inviting God into our lives so that, with God’s help, we will be strong enough to resist temptation and resilient enough not to be destroyed by life’s unfairness.”

The idea that God gives people what they deserve, that our misdeeds cause our misfortune, is a neat and attractive solution to the problem of evil at several levels, but it has a number of serious limitations. As we have seen, it teaches people to blame themselves. It creates guilt even where there is no basis for guilt. It makes people hate God, even as it makes them hate themselves. And most disturbing of all, it does not even fit the facts.

God is the light shining in the midst of darkness, not to deny that there is darkness in the world but to reassure us that we do not have to be afraid of the darkness because darkness will always yield to light. As theologian David Griffin puts in, God is all-powerful, His power enables people to deal with events beyond their control and He gives us the strength to do those things because He is with us

Or to Psalm 23 he writes:

The central theme is that the experience of going through the valley of the shadow teaches the psalmist what God is really about, and he wants to share that with us. He changes from an almost paternalistic understanding of God, almost a parent-child relationship, to a genuine relationship with God.

I never appreciated the last line of the psalm until I had to write a chapter about it. “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” God is inviting him into a permanent relationship–it’s much deeper and richly textured than just shepherd and sheep. In Judaism, the mitzvoth [commandments] are a way of retaining a relationship with God, so that everything you do–the way you eat, the way you use words, and the way you treat other people–is a way of spelling out your relationship with God. The sense that you are living every moment of your day in God’s presence–that’s what it means to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He causes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul; He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Even as I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You set a table before me in the presence of my adversaries; You anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows.
May only goodness and kindness pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Wishing you a good start to this week.
Philemon

 

 

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