“My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?” Have we cried out those words or resonated with these words in the past few weeks during COVID-19? Have we been tempted to cry out, ‘God, where are you right now?’ and ‘Why is this happening to our world?’ It would be very natural to have our minds wander to this question.
What do I do when my mind wanders that way? How do I respond to my children when they say to me, “Mum, God could stop this if he wanted to.” Often, I am lost for words. I know of many adults who are struggling to get used to this new reality. What about a child? We say children are resilient. But I watch my children sit in the gutter at the front of my house, calling out to our neighbours across the road whom they would normally play with, and try to explain to them why they cannot go over and play today. Or tomorrow. Or for the next few months. What do you say?
So where is God? And why has God abandoned us?
I do not believe that God has abandoned us. This was made clear to me as I journeyed through Holy Week this week. I was reflecting on some of the phrases that Jesus spoke as he hung on the cross on that first Good Friday. Each of the phrases Jesus uttered or screamed reminded me over and over, that God walks with us in our pains, doubts and sufferings. God knows what we feel. Because God lived it through Jesus.
And God didn’t magically wave a wand and make it all better then, like God is not going to wave a wand and make it all better now. God is not a magician. God didn’t take away the suffering of Jesus, even if Jesus did feel abandoned. Life happens as life will happen. That is the way life works. That doesn’t mean we do it alone. Through prayer, we call on the gifts and fruits of the Spirit that we have been given. The gifts of wisdom, fortitude, understanding, knowledge. Of patience, kindness, faithfulness and goodness. We are invited to recognise the face of God in the pain, in the suffering, in the doubts AND in the joys and in the opportunities. Like Mary at the empty tomb on Easter Sunday or the disciples on the road to Emmaus, they may not have recognised Jesus straight away. But given time and a little prompting, their eyes were opened, and they recognised Jesus before them.
God has not abandoned us. God walks with us, accompanies us in our sufferings and calls on us to continue to bring the news of God’s love to everyone whom we encounter, whether it be those whom we are in isolation with or those whom we are connecting with through new social media platforms.
In a time when we may feel abandoned, in a time when our world is suffering, in a time where our world is being renewed in so many ways, in this time of the Easter Triduum where we witness the suffering of Jesus and know that it doesn’t end there, as we move into the Easter season and come to know the Risen Christ deeper, let us pray:
“Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.”
We are called to renew the face of the earth in more ways than we could ever imagine. Let us remember that we are not abandoned. Our loving God walks with us in our joys and in our sufferings. Let us remember to take God with us on this journey.
If you are struggling during this time, please reach out. For urgent help or information please call CatholicCare (02) 8843 2500, Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.
Lisa Bright is the Project Officer for the Pastoral Planning Office for the Diocese of Parramatta.