Palm Sunday 2020
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen
These last few weeks have been very difficult, haven’t they. We are told to sit at home and isolate ourselves. They tell us, that the older generation are at higher risk as are those dealing with long term medical conditions. So where is God in all of this?
It can make us feel angry with God, as it’s all his fault. Why is he allowing this to happen?
I can hear people saying He makes me suffer; he deprives me of the resources I need. He takes away the people I love.
And all this is after he promised me . . . promised me, I tell you . . . that he would look after me, rescue me when I was in trouble, and be my friend. Well, if that’s friendship, I’ll be a . . . I don’t know what. I think he’s the worst . . . well, words fail me.
Of course, none of us would say those words out loud, but we can think it from time to time. Life is unfair; innocent people do suffer; we get painful diseases, and family members die younger than they ought.
How can Jesus say his Father is a God of love, if God allows these things to happen? It’s the old dilemma of innocent suffering and the problem of evil.
Most people agree that if you feel strong emotion, it is better to let it out than to bottle it up. Say what you feel, to a third person or councillor if necessary, and that may well bring you what people call ‘closure’.
But what if you still feel you were right to be angry? And what if the one you are angry with is God?
Quite a few years ago I was told to read a book by my Sister who felt I should have a look at this new novel called The Shack by William Paul Young.
The story tells of a Man who is very angry with God, because his young daughter disappeared, and was then found murdered near a shack in the mountains. Later, the bereaved father received a message inviting him to meet God at the shack. I won’t spoil the story for those who have not yet read it, but God revealed Himself to the man in that Shack. I would recommend this book to you all.
God embraced the angry man and let him cry on His shoulder, telling him that it is OK to get mad with God.
And that is true: God is strong enough to take it, and God is the only person who, you can be sure, will not get angry with you in return, because God is love through and through.
Its one certain fact in our current times that God is love and that he offers us forgiveness and eternal life with Him in heaven.
So, let us forget ourselves and our problems for a moment, put aside the Corona Virus and think, on this Palm Sunday, of Jesus.
‘They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha . . . And they crucified him.’ Jesus was the best man that ever lived, and God could have saved him from the cross, so why didn’t he?
If that isn’t fair I don’t know what is.
Jesus cried out, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.’ We assume he said it in despair or was just resitting Psalm 22 from his Childhood or was he just angry that God had allowed this to happen.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest.
Jesus had so successfully become fully human that he had put aside not his faith, but His inner knowledge of the workings of God. For one short moment, Jesus did not understand his Father’s actions, But by the end, before His death he knew and said triumphantly, ‘My task is finished.’
The world does seem unfair, and nobody has successfully managed ‘to justify the ways of God to men’. All we can say is that, if you think you can design a world in which human beings can evolve with free will, but without pain and death, you had better apply for God’s job. No atheist, no believer, has done that yet.
So, when we get angry with God, now or in the future, shout at him, then say sorry, and ask God’s forgiveness. Finally, ask for God’s grace, to uphold you through the pain.
Then Jesus, who has known pain and anger like ours, will hold your hand, now and in eternity. Amen