Is There Anything That Could Make Me Say “No” To God?

I’ll be the first to admit, I sometimes become frustrated with God. People within our congregation and community are fighting life-threatening cancers. Another friend had his second leg amputated. Diabetes is a vicious disease. They and their families are praying for answers. None are on the horizon. God seems silent. I share their dissatisfaction with God’s lack of attention and feel their sadness. There’s nothing to say.

Are these moments, part and parcel of my pastoral ministry, enough for me to say “no” to God?

It is difficult to tell God “no” when I encounter words such as those in Psalm 72. In the twelfth verse, it begins, “Let it be so, because he delivers the needy who cry out, the poor, and those who have no helper.” How can I say “no” to a God who seeks to help the helpless?

Verse thirteen continues, “He has compassion on the weak and the needy; he saves the lives of those who are in need.” Both compassion and salvation take many forms. Who am I to judge what ways God’s salvation and compassion must be realized? Is it not enough that they are present in the lives of those blessed to meet needs? Who is this God that cannot see beyond the most vulnerable? Perhaps, God is as frustrated and as dissatisfied as I am. God dwells among the weak and the needy.

Verse fourteen says, “He redeems their lives from oppression and violence; their blood is precious in his eyes.” Redemption comes in many forms. Healing is sometimes called death. Either way, God makes our lives holy in unexpected ways. We matter to God, and the world we inhabit is beloved. The violence and oppression which define today are not God’s, and if we take Psalm 72 at face value, we can partner with God to redeem, heal, and help the most vulnerable.

God’s kingdom is not a divided reality. We do not live in a bipolar universe. The Kingdom of Heaven is the world beyond your doorstep. Psalm 72 is asking us to step up and out today. We know the vulnerable, needy, and oppressed in our communities.   While we snipe at each other, fight over Twitter, and watch the power plays gear up for General Conference; how about give Psalm 72 a try?

Richard Lowell Bryant

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