Lent Day 27: Do Not Fear, For I Am With You
For a brief moment I deserted you, but with great compassion I will gather you.8 In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord, your Redeemer. 9“This is like the days of Noah to me: as I swore that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you, and will not rebuke you.
Sometimes when we reflect on our past it can bring a flood of memories, some good and some bad. Particularly as we look at our current state in the country, we all want to remember a time before COVID-19, before social and political unrest, before economic downturns, and educational upheaval. You get the picture. But remember before COVID-19 some of the things I mentioned were still present, but maybe not so much on our radar because we were active and engaged in our own worlds and it did not appear to be so pronounced.
However, when you experience a lock down in the country, and limited access to things to do, everything around us becomes more pronounced and things visibly and personally impact us whether we want to or not. It is in these moments that many things can get conflated, and our world can fall out of orbit as we seek a place of stability and rest.
So, when we do go back in our minds and reflect on a different time, we have to be careful that we don’t imagine something that may or may have been there. We can often create a world prior to COVID-19 that really did not exist just to give us a sense of stability to manage in our current situation.
Brueggemann explains it this way when he says, “ours is a time like the flood, like the exile, when the certitudes abandon us, the old reliabilities have become unsure, and “things fall apart.” The falling apart is happening for conservatives, and it is happening for liberals. It is happening all around us and to all of us.”
In the current state of our world, we can become more fearful and anxious about life and our loved ones. This can lead to hoarding, despair and violence to ourselves and others.
“That propensity to destructiveness is all around us. On many days we succumb to its power, we succumb to the need to look only after ourselves and our kind, only selfishly, only ideologically, only “realistically.”
It is in this moment that we have to have a sanctified imagination to believe in the reality of Jesus Christ and the truth of his word. In this way the present is radically reconstituted. This imagination is not based on the status quo or shrinking down to our level, it calls for a higher calling. An imagination to know that no matter what has happened in the past and what will happen in the future we can trust in the strong arm of our God.
“From out of the chaos, however, emerges this other voice rooted in memory and comes the text shaping our future not in hostility but in compassion, not in abandonment but in solidarity, not in isolation but in covenant, not in estrangement but in well-being.”
‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
“In the midst of troubled times, be with us, God of well-being. May faithful remembering lead to compassionate reimagining. Amen.” Brueggemann
Brueggemann, Walter. A Way Other Than Our Own: Devotions for Lent. Kentucky: Westminster John Know Press, 2017.