February 4, 2020
2 Samuel 18:9-19:3; Mark 5:21-43
Sometimes we experience sadness and grief, as David does in this great literary set piece from the Second Book of Samuel. We lose someone we love or we lose something really important in our lives and the loss is more than we seem able to bear. “Absalom, Abaslom,” David cries out in his grief, when he learns that his son has been killed.
And sometimes we experience joy, we experience resurrection, as Jairus does today in this great literary set piece from the Gospel of Mark. His child doesn’t die. She is saved, brought back to life by Jesus himself in his kindness and his compassion and his power. “Rise little girl, rise!”
Desolation and consolation. The darkness and the light.
And the thing about the spiritual life is that both are from God, in ways we can’t understand.
What does it mean that yesterday as I was walking my dog in the bright winter sun somewhere else on the planet a child was dying of hunger or violence or neglect? This is the great question, how a loving God can allow suffering and evil in the world, and the great temptation is to say he can’t. He doesn’t exist. The joy we feel is a lie. It’s easier that way. We are naturally either/or people. We can’t live with unresolved questions. We can’t live without an answer, even if that answer is that life is random and bleak.
But as people who believe in God, like David, as followers of Jesus, like Jairus, we can’t be that arrogant. We can’t be that presumptuous. We are called to live inside the tensions. We are called to live inside the contradictions. We are called to endure the darkness as best we can and to exult in the light when it comes and not presume to explain how they fit together. Only God can do that.
All we can do is be where we’re at. All we can do is be in the moment.
“The best help for holding on to the light is to understand that we can do nothing and that it comes from God,” St. Teresa of Avila says.
The most important word in the scriptures is and. This and that. The crucifixion and the resurrection. The human and the divine. All of it. Everything in the world brought together and focused and intersecting, on the cross, and through the cross, and in the heart of the man who hung there.