5 Thus says the Lord God: Disaster after disaster! See, it comes.
6 An end has come, the end has come. It has awakened against you; see, it comes! 7 Your doom has come to you, O inhabitant of the land. The time has come, the day is near—of tumult, not of reveling on the mountains. 8 Soon now I will pour out my wrath upon you; I will spend my anger against you. I will judge you according to your ways, and punish you for all your abominations. 9 My eye will not spare; I will have no pity. I will punish you according to your ways, while your abominations are among you.
Then you shall know that it is I the Lord who strikes.
This scripture sounds more like Samuel L. Jackson’s soliloquy from Pulp Fiction than a message of God’s love for us…which is why I was initially reluctant to write about it today, but as I thought about it, I felt more inspired to find the grace in these verses from Ezekiel…not to mention find anything that speaks to our lives as single parents!
And I realize that there is grace in Ezekiel’s message, but we have to search for it, as we often have to do in our lives…
If we are honest, we have to admit that as we have raised our children there have been times when we too have felt as if we were facing “Disaster after disaster” in our lives and the lives of our children!
These ‘disasters’ can come in many forms: a high fever in the middle of a stormy night…on a holiday weekend, discipline or learning issues at school, friends who really are bad influences on our kids, leading to make bad choices, which can lead to problems with addiction and even to encounters with Police and the justice system. Disasters can come in terms of long term medical issues, stress financial struggles, and conflicts between both sides of our children’s families.
And disasters can come in the form of loss: from the loss of plans we had before we became single parents, the loss of a relationships, to a loss that seems so unfair and so horrifying that we cannot begin to comprehend or accept it, and causes us to question the very Will of God!
When I was in seminary part of my training was to serve as an intern with a local congregation. During this time one of the church families lost their five week old baby. She had been born with a defect, and although she received intensive medical treatment the doctors were not able to save her. The loss was traumatic for everyone in the church, and wanting to comfort each other, but not knowing how, many said that it was “God’s Will”. The people who said this meant well, as often it can give us comfort to look to God to explain something so tragic that we cannot possibly understand it; however as the pastor pointed out during the funeral, saying it was “God’s Will” almost makes it seem like we are blaming God for this loss, which is NOT very comforting at all!
Instead, the pastor told us that she did not believe the baby’s death was the Will of God, and that God was weeping with us over this disaster, but not only that, was angry about the horror of this loss!!!
This is where the hope of today’s reading comes to us, when Ezekiel writes: “Then you shall know that it is I the Lord who strikes.” As I believe this does not speak so much to God’s anger with us, but to God’s presence with us as we face disaster after disaster…giving us hope by reminding us that we do not face these challenges alone, but in a community of faith, filled with family, friends, and professionals (teachers, pastors, therapists, doctors, etc.); and as we work together we can share the power of God’s love in the world to act against injustice, unfairness, and other disasters!
These verses also tell us that while we need the gentle and loving spirit of Jesus to comfort us and weep with us when faced with these disasters we also need the support of a Christ who acts more like Samuel L. Jackson: filled with righteous anger with “…those who attempt to poison and destroy my [children]”, and has laid down his life in order to protect and save us from the horrors that we face in our lives and the lives of our children!
As recipients of the great gift of God’s love, we are called to make Christ known in our world by sharing the power of God’s love to heal, protect and fight for us with those whose lives that have been broken by tragedy. When we share our faith together Christ IS in our midst and will bring us through disaster we would have never thought we were capable of surviving, but not only that, we often find that our faith and wisdom has grown as a result of having dealt with these struggles together!
As Christians we are called follow Christ, and to fight for our children, and for the children of others (and aren’t we all someone’s child?), to speak words of hope in the face of loss, and to stand against oppression, injustice, ignorance and the grief these things cause…to share the good news of God’s love, which has the power to strike out against all the evils in the world, to spark reconciliation, and spur healing.
For when we act as Christ in the world it is also the LORD who strikes out in the face of disaster and loss, whose righteous anger will defeat all that would do us harm, and who’s love will carry us through the darkest disaster and into the light that shines from the empty tomb of Christ and fills our world with hope!
Let us Pray:
God thank you for your love and protection…for your righteous anger that can strike out to protect us from the disasters face in our lives; and thank you for weeping with us in our pain, and for the hope you give us in each other. Please help us to act as Christ in the world, to speak justice in the presence of evil, comfort in the face of grief, and hope in the midst of even unimaginable loss. Let us share our faith with each other so that we can bring the light of the risen Christ into the darkness of despair, bringing with it the promise of joy that strikes out loudly even in a place where joy may seem to be out of reach.