#LordWhyAreYouSoDifficult is the Podcast for June 5, 2016. I asked the Lord in prayer, “Lord, why are you so difficult?” His answer is pretty up front and in your face. How do Elijah and Jesus raising the dead speak to our understanding of God and how he works? What do our actions say about what we think? Listen here in this reflection: Download it into your phone. #MSAWordfortheDay # MySpiritualAdvisor #Sermon #Theodicy #God #Elijah #Resurrection #Forgiveness #Perspective #AreYouSaved
Lord, Why Are You So Difficult?: Luke 7
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For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 6/5/2016 The 10th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read1 Kings 17:8-24 & Luke 7:11-17.
The other day, during prayer, I was contemplating the scriptures for this podcast and life in general. During my prayer time, I had one question for the Lord, “Lord, Father in heaven, why are you so difficult? Why can’t you make life smooth, comfortable, and easy?” The still small voice of the Lord said back to me, “You mean, like the Garden of Eden?” “Touché,” says I.
Yet, after a while, I pushed the Lord. I said, “Lord, why do you make life so difficult?” The Lord whispered to me in my heart, “If you think I am difficult, have you ever worked with people?” “Touché,” says I.
At that moment, I thought of all the bosses, pastors, bishops, and others I have worked with and for who had to have things their own way so much that I am not sure they would know the will of God if it hit them in the side of the head. I thought of all the work arounds and compromises I have had to make just to get where my family needed us to be. I thought of all the hardships, devastations, and losses that we have had to endure because another person was jealous, unkind, selfish, brutal, egotistical, and the like.
For example, Ahab, the King of Israel at the time of Elijah, is supposed to think of the physical needs and spiritual needs of his kingdom, a kingdom set up specifically for the worship of the Lord. His subjects are followers of the Most High God and he is supposed to lead them. Yet, instead of doing what God wants, he rejects the Lord and follows other idols as if they are God. His commission is to lead people to worship the Lord, care for the people as God would care for them, providing for them, etc. Yet, he rejects his call. His rejection leads the Lord to plead with him and finally force his hand by sending a drought on the Land. That is the story behind the story of the widow in 1 Kings for today.
In the midst of the disobedience of the caretaker of the people, which has horrible consequences, the widow is asked to give what little she has to support the prophet of the Lord. Amazingly, this woman, who has little support and little to give even her son, trusts that she will be blessed and gives a little of her little to the prophet of God. I have often found this kind of generosity among the poor. My mother, raising nine children on her own, would share what little we got with food stamps with other children in the neighborhood by making pancakes for breakfast on Saturdays after the friends of her children slept on our front porch for fun. “How could you turn people away? I never thought twice about it,” is what my mother said.
In my scriptural imagination, I could hear Elijah’s widow saying, “Who could turn away a man of God in his need? I never thought twice about it.” The story takes a turn when her son dies. She is up front with the prophet about it: “What have you against me, O man of God?” I love it! This kind of frankness should pervade our relationship with prophets, priests, pastors, and “men of God.”
In response, Elijah is conscientious. He takes the boy up to his lodging space and prays three times over the boy, pleading for the boy to be raised. The Lord answers his prayer. The boy is raised from the dead.
This story is important to Christians because the story from Luke’s Gospel has Jesus playing off this archetype for the revealing of a prophet: they can raise the dead. So, Jesus, raises the dead son of a widow just like Elijah. The implication is that Jesus is just like Elijah. The people get it, too. They say, “A great prophet has risen among us!”
Has anyone noticed that there is one big difference between Elijah the prophet raising the child and Jesus raising the child? Did you hear it in the reading? It jumped off the page of the Gospel at me. Elijah prays three times to the Lord to have the Lord raise the son his widow from the dead. Jesus, on the other hand, saw the bier, touched it, and said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!” That was it.
Elijah had to appeal to the Lord, Jesus did not have to appeal to the Lord because he is the Lord. John said in this Gospel, “one who is greater than I is coming.” Yet, the people miss it. They only see a prophet, a great prophet, but still only a prophet. I have to give the leaders of the people, they saw who Jesus was and is. They saw that he was acting differently than the prophets. He was acting like God because he is God, and they saw it. Both the people and the leaders of the people suffer from the same thing that I alluded to at the beginning of this message: people can be difficult.
How many times have we been able to see improvements that could be made at work that we know our bosses would never even let us say one word about? How many times is there something bigger and better that could be which our friends cannot see? How many times is there something so obvious which our spouse just doesn’t see? How many times do we act within the prism of what we know God can do, in our mind, rather than what God can do, period? How often do we act as though Jesus Christ is a great prophet and not God among us?
There is a message that God has for the whole world: your sins are forgiven. N. T. Wright, the bishop and pre-eminent New Testament scholar, has a quoted My Spiritual Advisor (@MySpiritAdvisor) tweeted earlier this week, he says, “Forgiveness of sins…is a fact of the cosmos”. It is because God himself is the human through whom the forgiveness of sins is given in the inauguration of a renewed heaven and a renewed Earth. This is what we have to offer people.
You know the people who come to your door and ask you “are you saved?” have it all wrong. They should be saying, “Do you know you are saved?” Do you know? Do you live like it? It is a fact. We should live like it, but as humans, as God said to me, we can be difficult. It is as if we need to say, “Is it like I have always done it? Is it part of my sentimental comfort zone of religious memories of the past? Is it what I want to soothe my soul?”
“Lord, why are you so difficult?” says I. “Mark Thomas, I will not be difficult, but others may. When they are, trust. I am the Lord.” Enough said. Amen.
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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian