“A prayer in despair and hope
If God is speaking to us through our present experience, why is it that I cannot hear you?
- In the locked-in home of the woman beaten and bruised by her violent partner
- In the disturbed schedule of the autistic child who craves a certain and reassuring routine
- In the cast away bottles of the struggling alcoholic separated from the support of her group
- In the empty crematorium as a loved one’s coffin enters the burners with only echoes in attendance
- In the hollow grave as a dead child is lowered before an absent, grieving family
- In the bed of the infected care worker gasping for breath
- In the exhaustion of the doctor working an endless shift
- In the pain of the nurse switching off the life support equipment
- In the refugee camp fighting to keep the virus out of its tents
- In the bemused gaze of the East African farmer staring at another failed crop, and fearing what next
I do not hear your voice speaking to me in any of these places. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
But, my God, perhaps when you were speaking to me, I wasn’t listening. Those times, and they were often enough, when you spoke and told me…
To look after the weak
To tend to the sick
To shelter the homeless
To feed the hungry
To protect the poor
To love my neighbour
To give up all I had…
…so that we would build a society that cared for its weakest members, a society that promoted health and not wealth, that valued service not profit, that sought justice in our relationships together, and not power and privilege, that provided for the common good and our common home, and not our individual gain.
If I had listened, I would not have stopped this virus, but I might have better provided for the communion of our saints, those in the National Health Service, those in our care homes, those key workers tending to the dying, keeping us alive. I might have helped them with more resources, a willingness to pay more taxes; I might have helped them with more respect for the dignity of their labour; and with gratitude before the event, and not during and after it. I might have looked further to feed the world. I might have tried harder to stop wars. I might have lived out some decent values that translated into some decent actions. I might have truly loved my neighbour.
O that yesterday I had listened to your voice, and hardened not my heart.
My God, my God, why have I forsaken you? Forgive me; o that today I will listen to your voice.”