I know that God loves me unconditionally and is with me always. Right now, though, part of me wants to scream, “Why have you forsaken me?” Not that I actually feel as if God has abandoned me, but dealing with lost lives, broken relationships, sick friends, and empty pockets weighs me down. Yes, Jesus’ yoke is easy and his burden light, but the burden of day to day life is sometimes anything but. I would think that I would be spiritually and emotionally bulked up by now. God knows, those muscles have been given a workout in the last six decades, but apparently it still isn’t enough.
I might be able to bear it if I only had to carry my own load, but I’m also burdened with other peoples’ suffering, whether it’s just who I am or because of the yoke I took on when I accepted the call to formal ministry. It isn’t that I’m codependent; it’s just that I care. It’s hard to see those close to me hurting, and it’s also hard to see how much suffering is going on all over this fragile globe we call home. I want to scream in the chaos of awareness – awareness of lives destroyed by drugs and alcohol, the pain of dysfunction passed on generation to generation, the violence perpetrated by human beings against other human beings, and so much more. The baggage of life requires a brutal manifest: war and disease, cruelty and indifference directed at human and animal and Earth herself.
The Apostle Paul said he had learned to be content in good times and in bad because God strengthened him. I’m not Paul; I’m just me. I’m grateful for all that I have, and I certainly don’t blame God for my problems, but sometimes I can’t see the contentment for the grief. I expect everything to work out in the long run, but I don’t know how long the run will be. I’m also realistic: people die, and the older I get I’ll have to say “goodbye” to even more friends and family members. To be fair, I haven’t been promised smooth sailing. That wasn’t the reality of Jesus’ life, or Paul’s, or Peter’s, and I have no reason to think it will be the reality of MY life. You know what else? It’s o.k. to admit that life is hard. In fact, I think it’s important that we not sugarcoat reality.
I can’t force everyone to be caring or honest or responsible stewards of the planet. I can’t prevent every accident, illness, or war. I can’t make people live forever. I can’t prevent the car or computer or coffee maker from breaking down, or pick money off of a tree in my backyard. I can’t make everyone around me happy. I can’t do it all, regardless of what Paul or anyone else says. And you know what? That’s o.k. I don’t have to.
What I can do, so far at least, is trust God and keep trying. I can pray. I can keep struggling to follow Jesus’ example. I can try to make this a better, i.e. more compassionate and more just, place than when I came into it. That’s something. “I can do [some] things through him who strengthens me.”