“W” is for Will, Word, and Why (March 23, 2012)

…Opening To…

For me, kind Jesus, was thy incarnation, thy mortal sorrow, and thy life’s oblation; thy death of anguish and thy bitter passion, for my salvation. Therefore, kind Jesus, since I cannot pay thee, I do adore thee, and will ever pray thee, think on thy pity and thy love unswerving, not my deserving. (Johann Heermann, from The Hymnal 1982)

…Listening In…

Abraham remained standing in front of the LORD. Abraham approached and said, “Will you really sweep away the innocent with the guilty?What if there are fifty innocent people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not save the place for the sake of the fifty innocent people in it? It’s not like you to do this, killing the innocent with the guilty as if there were no difference. It’s not like you! Will the judge of all the earth not act justly?” (Genesis 18:22-25; context)

…Filling Up…

This Lent, we are exploring our faith by running through the alphabet. Today, “W” is for will and a few other words that start with “W” (There are so many!). Many of the characters in the Bible (like Abraham in the passage above) and many of us struggle with what might be termed “divine inscrutability,” that is, our inability to understand why God does what God does. Two approaches spring from this inability. One accepts the inscrutability, saying, “We’ll never know why God does what God does.” The other attempts to explain it, saying, “It’s God’s will.”

Of course, saying “It’s God’s will” is paradoxical – it claims knowledge of God while springing from an inability to explain God’s actions. The “It’s God’s will” approach can be very damaging to people asking the “why” question. Often it is used as a platitude or defense mechanism. Yes, the will of God certainly exists, but we neither know it nor is it the organizing principle by which we live.

The organizing principle is, instead, reserved for the “Word” of God. (“Everything came into being through the Word, and without the Word nothing came into being.” (John 1:3))  This Word is both the foundation of existence and the incarnate being of Jesus Christ. Affirming this premise does not answer the “why” question, but rather supersedes it with the person of Christ, who is present with us in our pain and suffering. The inscrutability of God is maintained because we can never fully know God, but our “why” questions are answered by a relationship with Jesus Christ (rather than an explanation).

…Praying For…

Dear God, when I struggle to understand the “why” of my life, help me to seek both solace and direction from the “who” of my life, your Son Jesus Christ, in whose name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, counting myself blessed that you would choose to make me the person I am and love me into the person I am becoming.

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