14 March 2013

Lent: Poor, Sick, Suffering


I’m called to be good enough. One cannot be poor or sick and not suffer. One suffers with old age, impoverishment or disease. One doesn’t suffer from them. I believe the poor suffer with the lack of resources. I believe the sick suffer with a particular genome and the poverty of wellness knowledge and the poverty and absence of loving caregivers, and a hopelessness that saps the human desire for change. I believe hopelessness is the most creepy and corrosive of human emotions. Those human beings who are impoverished and sick live with suffering.

To suffer is to be with one’s natural condition, rational outcome, logical conclusion, inevitable result, or one’s fate, destiny, or karma. By definition to suffer is to endure pain, distress, loss, injury, harm, or punishment. To suffer is to be broken and to endure and to carry. To suffer is to endure evil or death. The image by Eva Rubinstein[1] of a Kentucky woman named Mathilda seems to capture what suffering might look like; pain and power and sadness and fear, maybe Mathildas fear of hopelessness. As a boy I recall being with my Grandma Savage and visiting Grandma’s family in the home for the aged. Our Aunt Caroline looked very much like Mathilda. Maybe its our fear of hopelessness.

Micah 6:6-8 RSV says,
6 “With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” 8 He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
I believe the prophet Micah loathed injustice. He looked around and saw what was broken. He tried to fix it. He called others to try to do the same. He gave us words to remember his call. What does the Lord require of you? Do justice. Love Kindness. Walk humbly with your Higher Power. The Spirit does not require human success or human perfection. God does not require human wealth or human health. The Lord invites me to try, and try, and then to try again, like He did. That is my relationship with the poor, the sick, and suffering. I hope that is good enough for now, just for today.

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