by Pam Nath
God is able to work miracles.
In today’s lectionary passages (Psalm 105:1-11, 37-45 Genesis 21:1-7 Hebrews 1:8-12), God makes barren (and very old) wombs fruitful. God sends guidance as clear as a pillar of fire, and provides food and water in abundance even in the midst of the desert.
And yet there are many situations in our world that seem to cry out for miracles that do not come and questions that go unanswered. Too many families like those of Trayvon Martin, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Michael Brown,Tarika Wilson, and far too many more to name have been left with an emptiness at least as aching to be filled as Sarah’s barren womb. Too many children go to bed without food while others have more than they need. We ask “why?” and there are no good answers.
Sometimes I get angry at God for what seems like silence in the face of so much injustice and suffering. Today’s story of the birth of Isaac reassures me that God can handle my very human feelings. When Sarah first hears God’s promise of a child in old age, she laughs, then lies about having done so, seemingly afraid that she will be punished by God for her disbelief. But God seems to understand and accept Sarah’s laughter. Isaac’s name, which means “to laugh,” seems almost like a gentle inside joke between God and Sarah, who says, “God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” I trust that a God like this knows my anger and despair in the face of injustice, suffering, and pain, meets me right where I am, and as Ava DuVernay suggests in Selma, is the first to cry along with me.
Oh God, there is so much we can’t understand. Our questions, doubts, rage, and grief, our feelings of abandonment and hopelessness, our barrenness – we bring them all to you. We trust that you hurt and rage along with us. Oh God who works miracles, anoint us with the oil of gladness and work miracles of joy and laughter and singing in our hearts this week, even as we cry out— and do what we can to work for – a more loving and just world.
Pam Nath is a Roots of Justice trainer. She has been living and working in New Orleans for the past eight years and loves being surrounded by water (the Bayou, the Lake, the river), by massive Oak trees, pelicans, and egrets, and by people who work passionately for a better world and who strive to live in Beloved Community with one another.