During these days of lockdown many people are suffering especially the elderly who cannot go out of their houses, or those who cannot visit their families. Human beings are created for community and human contact is necessary for us to be human. But when we are kept away from human contact, the tendency is to draw inward and search for something in us that will fill that emptiness. For someone who knows God, the search is directed to God. But for those who do not know God, we do not know where that search is directed.
The difficult thing is what if one searches for God and he is silent? When one tries to make sense of what is happening in one’s life and cannot find answers to their questions. This is Job’s experience. He was suffering and he searches for the reason for his suffering, and God seemed silent. Job said my days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and come to their end without hope. Sufferings seem more bearable when we know why we suffer, or when we see its purpose. But when we see no reason for it, the suffering becomes more difficult. Like Job, the suffering seems hopeless.
The Psalmist knows how difficult it is which is why he says God heals the brokenhearted. He gives an idea that the question to ask is not why, but who is with us or more accurately where am I? God heals the heart that is broken. He is the One who matters. It is the Person of God that is most important when we suffer.
St Paul has the zeal to proclaim the Gospel because he sees it not only as a privilege but as an obligation on him. Woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel. The Gospel is about what God has done to a broken world, to the brokenhearted. Which is why Paul preached the Gospel without claiming the privileges of an Apostle as he makes the Gospel free of charge.
In the Gospel today, many were looking for Jesus because he healed a lot of the sick and has driven the demons from a lot of people. The disciples told Jesus, Everyone is searching for you. But Jesus did not stay in that town. Instead, he told them he is going to the neighboring towns to proclaim the message there. And he gave the reason: this is what I came out to do. Jesus saw his mission is to proclaim the Gospel, telling people to repent because the kingdom of God is near.
The word repent in Greek means to change one’s thinking to trust in the one speaking. If we apply this to Jesus, his call to repentance is to change from what we trust to trusting him. The call to repentance is not just turning away from sin. It is believing in the Gospel. The Gospel, the good news, is Jesus himself.
Going back to where we started about suffering. When we are in the midst of it, when things do not make sense, when we cry out to an empty space and no one seems to answer, we are called to repent, to turn to Jesus. We may not know the answer immediately, but when we surrender ourselves to him, when we ask him to take charge of our suffering, Jesus is there and will take them and use them for our good. This may not seem so, but we walk in faith, believing that Jesus has done this.
When things do not make sense, when there seems to be no way out, when we are overwhelmed by our suffering, we know when we call out, Jesus hears, and he is with us. I know how difficult it is to call out to God and it seems like he does not answer. When that happens, we enter that darkness and confusion because then will find out, we are immersed in the intense brilliance of God’s presence. We are blinded and confused, because his immense brilliance blinds our senses from seeing.
Lord Jesus, in the midst of confusion and darkness, let me look at myself and see if I am in sin. If I am, then I repent from my sin and will seek to confess them as soon as I can. But if I am not in sin, Lord, let me trust I am in you and am blinded because of the brilliance of your presence.