Reflection on the Daily Texts for Friday, September 9:
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. – Isaiah 43:2
Jesus woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, "Why are you afraid?" – Mark 4:39-40
Two-year reading texts: Psalm 106:13-23; Ruth 2,3; Luke 23:13-31
When storms, wind, fire, and water are apt metaphors for a time in life, the natural reaction is to avoid them. Run away, sidestep, deny, ignore, distract - whatever it takes to escape having to deal with the pain and suffering.
Yet God's action in these times is the opposite of avoidance. God brings us through the suffering, and the fear and emotional upheaval that come with it.
I greatly dislike the saying, common but generally not helpful: "Everything happens for a reason." That can be taken to mean that God, or the inevitable workings of God's creation, have created an intentional plan to put us in a place of suffering. I prefer the sarcastic comeback: "Sometimes the reason things happen is that we're stupid and make bad choices." But of course, that also misses a large part of the whole truth.
The reality is that suffering happens. It's part of life. And often (not always), when we've been through an experience of suffering, we can look back and appreciate how God brought us through it, and how we've even grown because we had that experience. But that's not the same as saying that God caused it, or brought it about, or allowed it to happen, for the purpose of having us learn a lesson.
For me, it's better to just focus on the word "through." God says, "WHEN you walk through" ... the suffering will not get the best of you. God accompanies us, blesses us, walks with us. God even suffers with us. Thanks be to God for being there, and providing whatever it needs to get us through these times.