Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Psalm 22Jeremiah 29:1, 4-13Romans 11:13-24John 11:1-27 or John 12:1-10

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest.”

The Psalmist cries out to God in this fashion for 21 verses. He feels completely abandoned by God. My guess is that all of us have felt this way at one time or another and that God has left us alone to do “the heavy lifting.”

In my work as a Volunteer Chaplain at UVa Medical Center, I encounter these cries every time I do an on-call rotation. I encounter suffering at all levels: physical, emotional, and spiritual. The suffering is intense, and at times I have felt completely helpless to assist people in alleviating their pain. I have wanted to cry out the words that the Psalmist wrote, and add to them, “and why have you forsaken these people in this hospital?” In my own questioning, I discovered an amazing phenomenon: families and patients help each other. In the family lounges, surgical waiting areas, many families know other families by name. They know who is having surgery, and they know who is struggling, and they cry when they hear someone didn’t make it. And they celebrate when someone goes home. I realized they are ministering to each other. WE are ministering to each other. And in that observation, I know God really IS here.

The Psalmist cries out for 21 verses, but for the next 10 he praises God for delivering him from his own darkness. A very wise priest said to me many years ago: “God is in the brokenness.” I have to believe that. Life just doesn’t make sense otherwise.

Bonny Bronson

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