Today's Scripture readings are wonderful and full of promise. They bring to my mind an image of God's hand. Strong, lined, constant and extended. Stories of hard times and horrible people where it's hard to see God's hand. Yet the promise is that it is there. Christ's promise is that God's hand is always there. Stretched out and waiting for us to take it.
In Acts, the early church has come under severe persecution. Stephen is murdered, believers are scattered and Saul is trying to destroy the church. Where is God's hand? And yet, we know that Stephen will be revered as the first martyr, Saul will become Paul and Philip, one of the scattered, proclaims Christ where he goes and brings great joy. The psalmist invites us praise the Lord and to "come and see the works of God." See the hand of God in creation all around us. And in John, in an incredibly powerful narrative, Jesus proclaims "I am the bread of life" and "I will not reject anyone who comes to me." Jesus goes on to say that it is the will of the Father that everyone who believes in Christ will have eternal life. What a promise! The hand of God, always available.
Sometimes it's hard for us to see God's hand. Recently I received
the news of the death of a friend. A young man who took his own life.
I simply could not believe it. This man had several college degrees,
he was athletic, he had many friends, a loving family and he always had
a smile and a joke for those he met. I thought of this man's family
and I wept. How could something like this happen? What is wrong
with the world that something like this can happen? I questioned
myself about what I might have done or why I had no clue. I prayed
for his family, but I also prayed in anger that this had been allowed.
Where was God's hand? I still don't have many answers, but I have
since felt God's hand on my heart, reassuring and calming me. One
of the moments came several days after I received the horrible news.
My wife was traveling and I stayed home to get the boys off to school.
We had breakfast and I gave them the usual dad talk. Have a great
day and be careful crossing the street. I watched from the kitchen
window as they left the house. As they approached the street, my
sixth grader looked up and down the street and extended his hand.
Without exchanging a word or a look, my kindergartner reached up, took
his brother's hand and they stepped off the curb. Ah, the lessons
that can be learned from children. I sat back and I marveled at such
trust. Why can't I be like that?
Even with the cross looming so recent and Christ's promise that he
will not reject anyone who comes to him, I'm still hesitant to reach out,
take God's hand and simply trust Him. I may never understand my friend's
death. However, I draw comfort from the fact that I worship a God
who holds out his hand in a constant and faithful promise of love.
A God who loves me, who won't withdraw his hand at my anger and simply
wants to console me when I'm confused and sad. What an incredible,
wonderful and joyful thing. Even in my sadness it makes me feel lucky.
My prayer would be for those who are grieving to feel the comfort and promise
of God's loving hand.
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