Where is God in a Pandemic

Where is God in a pandemic?

The honest answer is: We don’t know. But even non-Christians may find understanding in the life of Jesus.

This article, by James Martin, a Jesuit priest, appeared in the NY Times, March 22, 2020

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Good thoughts, @beaglelady. To expand on that, I’ve recently found meaning in Jesus’ words in the story of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25:

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

From these verses, I would find the answer to your question to be that we find Jesus in the sick, the hungry, the cold, and the imprisoned,whether that prison be imposed by self or society. I need to do better, and at this particular time doing so may look a little different, but if looking for God, it seems clear we will find him in the faces of those in need.

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Immanuel. Gott mit uns. God with us. Every time we see the cross. The ultimate act of solidarity. Of identification. With us. And… apology.

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My bad - clicked the wrong button!

He’s stealing some of my thunder for a post later today!

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Hope this does too James!

Richard Rohr

The Path of Descent

Suffering in Solidarity
Sunday, March 22, 2020

I am not alone in my tiredness or sickness or fears, but at one with millions of others from many centuries, and it is all part of life. —Etty Hillesum

The “cross,” rightly understood, always reveals various kinds of resurrection. It’s as if God were holding up the crucifixion as a cosmic object lesson, saying: “I know this is what you’re experiencing. Don’t run from it. Learn from it, as I did. Hang there for a while, as I did. It will be your teacher. Rather than losing life, you will be gaining a larger life. It is the way through.” As impossible as that might feel right now, I absolutely believe that it’s true.

When we carry our own suffering in solidarity with humanity’s one universal longing for deep union, it helps keep us from self-pity or self-preoccupation. We know that we are all in this together. It is just as hard for everybody else, and our healing is bound up in each other’s. Almost all people are carrying a great and secret hurt, even when they don’t know it. This realization softens the space around our overly-defended hearts. It makes it hard to be cruel to anyone. It somehow makes us one—in a way that easy comfort and entertainment never can.

I believe—if I am to believe Jesus—that God is suffering love. If we are created in God’s image, and if there is so much suffering in the world, then God must also be suffering. How else can we understand the revelation of the cross? Why else would the central Christian logo be a naked, bleeding, suffering divine-human being? The image of Jesus on the cross somehow communicates God’s solidarity with the willing soul. A Crucified God is the dramatic symbol of the one suffering that God fully enters into with us—much more than just for us, as many Christians were trained to think.

If suffering, even unjust suffering (and all suffering is unjust on some level), is part of one Great Mystery, then I am willing to carry my little portion. Etty Hillesum (1914–1943), a young, Dutch, Jewish woman who died in Auschwitz, truly believed her suffering was also the suffering of God. She even expressed a deep desire to help God carry some of it. How many people do you know who feel sorry for God and want to “help” God within us? She has a stronger sense of the Divine Indwelling within her than most Christians I have ever met:

“And that is all we can manage these days and also all that really matters: that we safeguard that little piece of You, God, in ourselves. And perhaps in others as well. Alas, there doesn’t seem to be much You Yourself can do about our circumstances, about our lives. Neither do I hold You responsible. You cannot help us, but we must help You and defend Your dwelling place inside us to the last.
Such freedom and generosity of spirit are almost unimaginable to me. What creates such altruistic and loving people? Perhaps this season of disruption will offer us some clues. I certainly hope so.”

Such freedom and generosity of spirit are almost unimaginable to me. What creates such altruistic and loving people? Perhaps this season of disruption will offer us some clues. I certainly hope so.

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May I take this in a different direction?

I wonder if thinking about this is enough reason to dispose of the tired old saying “everything happens for a reason”. Of course things happen when there is sufficient cause, but reasons are what explain actions that are intended. Surely not everything that happens reflects intentional action. To say “everything happens for a reason” implies we are hollow finger puppets in a play being performed by God.

There is sufficient cause for new viruses to evolve and/or jump species. That such a thing also requires divine cause is an absurd idea.[/rant]

Same place He has always been. Waiting to welcome us home!

I have been wondering if gbob is ok. We could lose some people here. How would we know?

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I’m in contact with him by email. He is doing as well as can be expected, under the circumstances.

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People who say that everything happens for a reason are misguided. And this kind of thinking usually turns God into a monster.

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Aye. NOTHING happens for any reason whatsoever. No test of faith, which would be by God the Psycho for whose benefit? Nothing.


Makes me think of your post. Thanks

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I finally read the article! Very good indeed. The honesty is most refreshing. We don’t understand God at all except in Christ, which echoes Job as the utter lack of understanding cake remains unchanged but with a layer of icing in the only possible response: compassion; aiming for equality of outcome.

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Obviously God is excluded.

The only place for God in this world appears to be as the creator, so therefore the culprit, and / or the haven for the dead.

It has been declared that God either cannot, or will not get involved so how dare you even consider Him?

If God cannot protect His Church and repeat the Passover then he cannot be expected to heal, prevent or rectify this pandemic.

Richard

I think you’re asking: if God isn’t a reliably interventionist God, why bother with him at all? Is that it, no other value or use worth bothering with beyond foxholes, pandemics and auntie’s cancer?

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I have been saying that from the word go but that was not what was “heard”

Either God is “useful” or He is irrelevant. In this case there is no middle ground.

Richard

But I think I and others have been saying that useful doesn’t have to mean at ones beckon call. Free will suggests self reliance has some value. I think we are on our own when it comes to surviving in a foxhole but some will find value in not being alone in dealing with the worry and fear. I don’t think there is any guarantee that you will never experience fear or concern.

I have no idea how well supported your expectation of timely divine intervention may be in the Bible but I’m sure other conclusions can also be supported biblically.

But how does that work if God is basically leaving us to our own devices? What Good is God if He is either impotent or aloof (Not getting involved)?

Basically if this was a test from God we failed it so the only way forward is to conclude that it had nothing to do with God one way or the other. That way the church is secure, if a little redundant in practical matters.

God can still be a comfort and emotional support, assuring us that nothing, even death is to be feared, and giving strength to endure and conquer but whether that is enough to justify the amount of dedication and effort expected of Christians is another matter. If God is only really good for a place in Heaven then I would find it hard to justify my faith in Him or to promote that faith. I have to believe that God is a benefit in this life as well as the next. Otherwise God becomes only relevant to the terminally ill or the elderly (Which might not be too far from what exists)

Richard

We really don’t have much common ground on this issue. Not being a Christian I have no expectation of any kind of afterlife. So whatever good God belief may provide had better show itself in this life. I have faith in what gave rise to God belief. I value that very much even though I don’t believe it can intercede on my behalf or reward me after death. I find a relational connection to whatever this is makes every day better.

I find the life we have as a human just an amazing thing. So improbably when you consider the many evolutionary twists and turns that led us here and yet here it is. The pleasure of eating a bowl of ice cream comes to an end. Would it have been better never to have enjoyed it at all? In the face of so much wonder I can’t fathom demanding “but why must it end?” Or wishing I had never had this experience at all. You can’t have this joy forever but you can savor it with appreciation and enjoy the company of the rest of us making this remarkable journey at the same time as you.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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