Today's reflection on the Daily Texts:
Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? – 2 Samuel 12:9
God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this inscription: 'The Lord knows those who are his,' and, 'Let everyone who calls on the name of the Lord turn away from wickedness.' – 2 Timothy 2:19
Two-year reading texts: Psalm 119:25–32; Ezekiel 22:23–23:27; James 3:1–12
Why do we do what's evil? People have been asking that for countless years and too many situations to comprehend. Evil happens. But it doesn't just happen: it's something we do. Things that are wrong, hurtful, sinful, selfish, inadequate, misguided, tainted, contrary to what we believe to be right and actually desire to do – these actions do come from our mouths and hands and influence in the world.
After today's 2 Samuel 12 verse (the words of Nathan to David, after David commits adultery and arranges for the death of Bathsheba's husband Uriah), David makes no attempt to answer the question: Why? He just says, "I have sinned against the Lord." And this seems to be the pattern in scripture stories of sin and evil and consequences and recovery. It is just a fact of the human story that we get it wrong at times, that we and others pay the price, but also that the story continues and that repentance, learning, forgiveness, reconciliation, and sometimes unexpected blessings are all possibilities.
As I write this, I'm involved in several instances, some closer and some farther from me, of evils and wrongs being done, of people trying to make a way forward. This is not unusual, in the work of a pastor, or in life in general! Life could be unbearably hard, if we had to face each such situation on our own, bearing the burden of making it all right. But as Paul says (along with many other writers of the Bible), in God we have the gift of a solid foundation, a sense of identity, and a resource for making the turn toward a better way. God is the one to whom we can turn first, recognizing and admitting what has gone wrong, resting in mercy, and seeking a new direction.
The "Michigan Left" road sign below is a reminder that it seems to be an inevitable part of navigating human life to have to make a U-turn now and then. We go along on a path where life "goes south" before making the turn. My prayer, for anyone headed the wrong way in a difficult situation, is for faith and strength in God's guidance, and for courage and persistence to make the turn. May you know that you are God's, call on God's name, and successfully navigate the turn back onto God's way.