Reading 1 Is 40:25-31
To whom can you liken me as an equal?
says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high
and see who has created these things:
He leads out their army and numbers them,
calling them all by name.
By his great might and the strength of his power
not one of them is missing!
Why, O Jacob, do you say,
and declare, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?
Do you not know
or have you not heard?
The LORD is the eternal God,
creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint nor grow weary,
and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny.
He gives strength to the fainting;
for the weak he makes vigor abound.
Though young men faint and grow weary,
and youths stagger and fall,
They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength,
they will soar as with eagles’ wings;
They will run and not grow weary,
walk and not grow faint.
Gospel Mt 11:28-30
Jesus said to the crowds:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
“My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”.
So often in life, many people come to feel as if they have been abandoned or ignored by God. This may be a passing moment or may last years. This feeling of abandonment, as if God no longer cares can bring deep pain which people sometimes try to alleviate through use of alcohol, drugs, through shopping or some other outside compensation; but these external things, while in the short term might distract from the feeling of hopelessness, are fleeting distractions at best. Eventually, that emptiness may return, and the outside thing relied upon no longer drowns out the pain.
“To whom can you liken me as an equal”
When outside substances, like alcohol, drugs, sex, even people, are used as a replacement for God’s love, these things always fall short. They just cannot compare to the vast depths of God’s love and healing. This of course does not mean any of these external things are bad, rather, how much time and effort are these “things” allowed to take up during the day? How much time is spent with the Lord? Is there a balance? Sometimes, it is easy to “feel” abandoned by God because the previous consolations that we felt in prayer seem to have been replaced with a sort of monotony. God has not gone anywhere; He is ever present. The issue may be that the zeal and excitement of first love needs to grow beyond the feeling and into the commitment of a deepening love.
The psalmist reminds us to “Bless the Lord, oh my Soul, and forget not all His benefits.” No matter what is happening, whether God feels near or feels absent, “Bless the Lord, oh my Soul, and all my being, bless His Holy name”. Praising God does not have to be relegated to specific times during the day, but all day, in all that is done, “Bless the Lord, oh my soul.” The amount of energy praising God takes, is minimal compared to the energy needed to hide the pain and keep up a façade.
Jesus invites us to renew our strength with Him, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest”. Even if poor choices have been made, even if harm has been caused, Jesus still, and most especially offers healing and rest; lay down the burden, lay down the guilt, the shame, the fear, lay it down and pick up the Lord’s Yoke. Picking up Jesus’ yoke, is to be joined with Him, His yoke is easy and the burden light because He carries it with us. Where we are weak, He is strong. Where we are fearful, He is courageous. Where we are hurting, He is our healing.
Good and gracious God, we give thanks to you for your deep love and understanding. We give thanks that you have not abandoned us but are with us throughout our lives. Help us to see your love and care in the ordinary things of life. Help our love for you to mature into the love that is not dependent upon our present feelings. Help us not to seek comfort in the things of this world. As we become burdened by the things of this world, help us to remember that any burden that we carry you carry with us.
Br. Caleb Oeming, FCM