Reflections on Shuffle-Play

Beverly suffers from multiple sclerosis.  She’s been confined to a bed for the last twenty-five years or so.  She can still move her hands and turn her head but relies on caregivers at the nursing home for everything else.

Josh is twenty-four years old.  He has muscular dystrophy and soon will require a ventilator to breathe.  He has been in a motorized wheelchair for the last ten years.  He wasn’t supposed to live even this long.  He is lovingly cared for by his parents in their home.

In the gospel of Matthew (9:20) there is a sense of relief for the woman with the hemorrhage who suffered for twelve years before she came into contact with Jesus and he cured her.  She suffered long and ached to be free of this condition that probably rendered her as unclean and thus forced to be apart from her family and other loved ones the whole time she endured it.

But frankly, Beverly or Josh or anyone with a lifelong illness would probably be thankful to have a disease that only lasted twelve years.  Why hasn’t Jesus yet said to all who suffer, “Take heart, your faith has made you well?”

We can’t help but struggle with serious questions of faith when we see suffering all around:  Disease never goes away.  War kills too many.  Poverty strangles the life out of hungry children.  Another shooting, this time in a church, strips away 26 lives on a Sunday morning. We cry out until we are hoarse – “Where is the justice?  Where is the healing? Where is the miracle?”

The best answers to questions like these aren’t ours to have yet.  Faith has never been about seeing miracles.  Faith is about not quite being able to shake our doubts and questions from one hand, and grasping tightly, even desperately onto the hem of Jesus’ robe with the other.

 

Believe

By the Northern Pikes

Once depression walked through my door
Open loving arms and open loving legs
Homeless in Winnipeg
Completely caught me off guard
Safely loved like two splints on a broken leg
Would ya hate to see me beg

Once upon a time avec ma chérie
I never questioned life
I never twisted knives
I always would survive

And I’ll ask myself why
No I can’t believe it’s true
After three million fights
I’m still in love with you
I can’t believe it’s dwindled away
To a forced “hello. ya I’ll see you someday”
Let me be your tornado
Like I did that summer day
I swept you off your feet
Dust never tasted so sweet
Completely caught you off guard
You’re walking west and feeling east
I’m lonely at your feet
So lonely at your feet

Once upon a time avec ma chérie
I never questioned life
I never twisted knives
I always would survive

And I’ll ask myself why
No I can’t believe it’s true
After three million fights
I’m still in love with you
I can’t believe it’s dwindled away
To a forced “hello. ya I’ll see you someday”
We will look back to the evidence
And blatant testimony
We will react… ooh, ooh
And I’ll ask myself why
No I can’t believe it’s true
After three million fights
I’m still in love with you
I can’t believe it’s dwindled away
To a forced “hello. ya I’ll see you someday”
I can’t believe

 

 

 

Published by Ruth E. Hetland

Ruth E. Hetland is the pastor of Saint Peter's Lutheran Church of Audubon, Minnesota. She is a mom, wife, skeptic, and Alt for Norge (Norwegian reality show) participant. She has served as a pastor in three other congregations prior to Saint Peter's: Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church of South Newstead in Akron, New York, First Lutheran Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Our Savior's Lutheran Church at Norse of Clifton, Texas. She has been published in The Lutheran magazine, Christ in Our Home, the Word in Season, the Upper Room, Sundays and Seasons, and several other worship resources. Her most recent book is "Writing With a View of the Graveyard: Loss, Life, and Unruly Grace;" (2018). This devotional with photographs of rural churches is available in black and white on Amazon and in full-color by contacting Ruth at ruthehetland@gmail.com; Ruth's first book, a preaching resource, "The Power of Place and Story in Preaching," was published in 2012 and is available on Amazon. Ruth can be contacted at ruthehetland@gmail.com.

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