Tuesday, September 26, 2017

"Why Are You Sad My Heart?"

“Why are you sad, my heart?

Why do you grieve?

Wait for the Lord,

I will yet praise God my savior.” Psalm 42


Cyclone damage to the Monastery (1916)
Events these past few weeks answer the psalmist’s questions about why my heart might be sad or why I might be grieving. Hurricanes and earthquakes have brought death, injury and devastation to so many; the nuclear threat from North Korea has escalated; millions across the globe continue to face the horrors of terrorism and civil war.  These events also make me ask another question, “Why does a loving, forgiving God allow these things to happen?” I don’t know. I don’t have secret hotline to God through which my questions and doubts are answered.

In saying that I don’t know, however, I have the inkling of an insight. In common with most of the world, I don’t know why God lets these things happen, but it makes me very conscious of my common humanity. I know that I’m fortunate not, at this time, to be directly affected by these disasters, but I’m very conscious of suffering in my heart alongside the many victims throughout the world. And that gives me an understanding of what it might mean to love my neighbor as myself. It is right that I should feel sad and grieved.

The next two lines of Psalm 42 start to mean more to me. I don’t understand the mind of God and I don’t need to. My call is to wait and allow God’s love to flow through me, whether that’s by providing practical help to victims, making a donation or supporting my brothers are sisters who are hurting through prayer.  

One of the great gifts of the psalms is that they encompass the whole of human experience. Psalm 42 is one of my favorites because it doesn’t shy away from the difficult questions that challenge our faith; it doesn’t pretend that life is always good but acknowledges that, at times, we are disturbed and disquieted. It also ends with advice: “Wait for the Lord.” That’s where we are at this moment, waiting for the Lord, continuing to pray in hopeful trust for light in our darkness.

Karen Rose, OSB

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