How Long, O Lord?

First, a gift for the Naples UCC Choir-in-absentia:
A snail went to the exotic car dealer the buy a car. He picked out a Jaguar. The salesperson was surprised when the snail wanted a large “S” painted on each side door. Why would you want that, the salesperson asked. “Because”, said the snail, “when I drive around town I want everyone to say “Look at that S-car-go!””

A guy goes door to door look for work. One homeowner hands him a can of paint and a brush and says, “I’ll give you $150 to paint the porch.” An hour later the guy rings the doorbell. “I’m finished”, he announced, “but you should know that your car is a Ferrari, not a Porsche”.”

A cruise ship passes by a remote island. All the passengers see a bearded man running around and waving his arms wildly. “Captain”, one passenger asks, “who is that man on the island?” “I have no idea”, says the Captain, “but he goes nuts every year when we pass by.”

(Thank you to jokes.boyslife.org)
Editor’s Note: Our Executive Minister is famous for his dad jokes. These groan inducers are included in this e-blast with the staff’s most sincere apologies for their sheer corniness. What can we say? He’s the boss.

“O Lord, rebuke me not in thy anger, nor chasten me in thy wrath. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled. My soul also is sorely troubled. But thou, O Lord – how long?” (Psalm 6:1-3)

People read the Psalms because, while a handful are inspirational, more than a few of these poems talk about the pain and anguish of life. We relate to such Psalms because we know these feelings. Some of the Psalms also do what we do: we assume that either God doesn’t care about our pain, or that somehow God is allowing pain to teach us a lesson. The psalmist writes, “How long, O Lord, will you forget me; how long will you hide your face; how long will you be angry?”

A lot of Christians believe in a personal God with whom we have some semblance of a personal relationship. Personally, I like talking to God when I walk and pray in the morning. So, if that is the case, wouldn’t it be normal to wonder if God’s hand is in the suffering as well as the blessing? How long, O Lord, will I have to endure this pandemic? How long, O Lord, before we can go back to being together at church? How long, O Lord, will you allow so many people to suffer? Quickly, as you can see, a question like “how long?” can turn from being rhetorical to expectant, to egoistic, to blaming.

In the Gospels, Jesus is clear that affliction isn’t the work of God (John 9:1-5)(Luke 13:1-5), but it is part of life, and that it is our job to “do the works of God who sends us while it is day.” What are the works of God? First, to trust Christ as we understand him. Second, to do what Christ asks of us: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you; that you also love one another. By this will all know that you follow me: if I have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

Now the question is real. How long, O Lord? How long before I trust you with what is going on in the world? How long before I stop judging people and start loving them? How long before I stop asking questions and get to work?

Rev. Dr. David Kaiser-Cross
Executive Minister

For all those throughout the world who are weary and feeling afflicted:
God, be my shepherd this day. Lead and guide my soul in quietness. Calm my fears and grant me courage to walk the path of righteousness. Anoint me with the power of your goodness and love, that I may dwell in your house forever! Amen.