Daily Reflection
September 23rd, 2003
Daniel Patrick O'Reilly 
Registrar's Office 
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Ezra 6:7-8, 12, 14-20
Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5
Luke 8:19-21

Today’s scripture readings are an interesting mix.  Ezra gives an historical accounting of the kings involved in allowing the Israelite exiles' return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple.  The Psalmist rejoices in the house of the Lord.  And in Luke, Jesus’ mom and brothers come to meet him and Jesus just keeps on preaching.  They are stood up.

Anyone here ever been stood up?  Maybe by a friend or relative?  A date, meeting or lunch?  It’s not a good feeling.  I read a short story back in High School titled, “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall.”  It made an impression on me.  The story of an elderly woman who is dying.  As she lies in her bed, surrounded by children and grandchildren, what are her thoughts?  Does she think of her husband’s love, of vacations, of family gatherings, time with friends?  No.  As her life flickers out, her dying thought is the bitter memory of being stood up at the wedding altar by her would-be groom.  What a horrible way to leave the world.  Anyone here ever feel stood up by God?  I have.  I’m betting the Israelites did, too.  They were God’s chosen people.  They had a special relationship with God.  Jerusalem was their home.  The temple the focal point of their worship.  Then comes the storm.  Jerusalem is sacked, the temple destroyed and the Israelites become exiles.  I’m sure they were crying,“Where is God?”

I’ve had a few of those times in my life.  The worst was when my little sister died.  Easily the worst time in my life.  I was angry and bitter.  Where was God?  How could this be allowed?  What could He possibly be thinking?  Well, part of this story is God’s faithfulness.  In fact, God’s faithfulness is the most important part of the story.  Some questions simply will not be answered in this life.  However, sometimes we can turn around and look back on life to find some answers.  Life’s storms are inevitable.  Pain, suffering and tragedy are unavoidable.  You cannot live in the world and not have things that feel like a stab in the heart.  How we react to these things is important.  Do we go through life scarred, angry, bitter?  Do we blame God and turn our backs on Him?  That’s an option.  However, one of the most important messages that can be taken from scripture is that God loves us and God is faithful. 

In hindsight, I see how the death of my sister has affected my relationship with God, my family and decisions that I’ve made in life.  I may have felt abandoned, but God stuck with me and carried me through.  I may have hated God, but God loved me.  In ways, it’s part of the mystery of Grace.  I am incredibly undeserving and yet God’s love and faithfulness are there.  Kind of amazing.  But there it is.  To be honest, there are lots of unanswered questions, but I believe that some day they will be answered.  God’s constant love and faithfulness support us in that belief.

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