Day 32. Cry to God: Adapted from Psalm 119:145-152. I cried with all my heart, answer me, Oh Lord. I will observe Your statutes. I cried to You, save me, and I will keep Your testimonies; I rise before dawn and cry for help. I wait for Your words. My eyes anticipate the night watches that I may meditate on Your promise. Hear my voice according to Your loving kindness. Revive me, O Lord, according to Your ordinances. Those who follow after wickedness draw near; they are far from Your law. But You are near, Oh Lord, and all Your commandments are truth. Of old I have known about Your truths, that You established forever. I put all of my trust in You and claim the power of Your salvation. Amen.
When I read the psalms, I remind myself constantly that the psalmist is like us asking God for help and expressing a full range of human emotions. At times it sounds like he or she is bargaining with God—“save me, and I will keep Your testimonies.” Many psalms sound less than humble and almost arrogant. When trying to unpack the message of a passage like this one, I remember a seminary class where a man came to talk to us about being organ donors. He stood before us in robust health and told how he went to seminary later in life when his heart started to fail. By his last year in seminary, he could hardly walk. He said the prayers he wrote in his journal were ugly and angry—he was pleading with God to help him. He even swore at God and said something like, “Why did you put this calling on my heart if you were just going to kill me before I got to be a pastor?” He was on the heart transplant list.
Then it happened; as he was shopping with his son, his beeper (it was before cell phones) went off. He knew the drill well—he went immediately to the hospital. He had surgery that night and the next morning he felt resurrected. He could breathe freely again. He was ecstatic until he realized that in order for him to live fully—someone had to die. He said it was sobering. Someone died for him to live. A young man in his 20s was killed in a drive-by shooting. The parents allowed his organs to be donated—but they wanted no contact with anyone who received them. The man who spoke to us said organ donations were gifts of resurrection. He said he never would have asked God to kill someone so he could live—but the unintended consequences of praying for a heart transplant means someone dies.
Will we understand that our prayers and our actions and God’s will involve trusting that God’s intentions for us and our eternal life are always good? I do not believe that God caused the man’s heart to fail, or the young man to be killed. Life on earth is filled with challenges, sickness, and human choices that can be either constructive or destructive. I do believe that God is always in the healing. God weeps with us when we suffer pain and loss, just as Jesus did when Lazarus died. God is always with us. Can we understand in this Lenten Season that Jesus went to the cross because Jesus loves us? Can we learn from Jesus that the greatest commandment is to love God and our neighbor as ourselves as he did?