Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Utterly Meaningless

We are caught in a maelstrom of violence. Clashes of race, religion and culture. Much of it exacerbated by guns, hatred and mental illness. The last three weeks have been brutal.

Two men "driving while black" were killed by white policemen in Louisiana and Minnesota. Both incidents appear to be unprovoked. Then, five policeman were ambushed by an angry, deranged black man in Dallas. In France, eighty four Bastille Day celebrants died beneath a runaway truck. It's not clear if the driver was a jihadist or mentally ill...or both. And there was another attack on police in Baton Rouge. Three officers and the perpetrator are dead.

Amidst these dark headlines, my Scripture Union daily Bible study was a slog through Ecclesiastes. Frankly, the Word cannot always be counted on for uplift. Sometimes the message is appropriately discomforting, and a lamentation can be cathartic...

Meaningless! Meaningless! says the Teacher. Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless. ‭‭(Ecclesiastes‬ ‭1:2‬)

O Lord, life can seem meaningless...without you. Even in your presence, there's so much I can't process. This broken world and broken souls overwhelm my tidy theology. 

Nature may hurt us. As will other humans. And I will undoubtedly inflict pain on others. It's difficult to frame or explain. Right now, I'm mired in futility - utterly meaningless. 

The wise King Solomon accepts that life (even a faith-filled life) is riddled with ambiguity, with contradictions.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal...   (from Ecclesiastes 3)

O Lord, help me to endure the times of hate and war, the times of tearing down and mourning.

O Lord, I'm grateful for the times of healing, peace and love; for the laughter and dancing. 

The ancient king tells me to eat, to drink, to enjoy my work. And leave it at that. 

I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil - this is the gift of God. (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13)

O Lord, I accept the gift and hold tight to the hope of a new creation, knowing you will sort out the ambiguities and reveal the mysteries. How can I contribute while we wait? How can I push back against the darkness?

O Lord, in the meaningless rubble, I will find a clearing and dance.