Sunday, August 7, 2011

The No's of God

Be merciful to me, O Lord, for you are my God; I call upon you all the day long.
Psalm 86:3, Book of Common Prayer

            The hard truth is this: I can call upon God all day and all night, and I believe God hears me. But sometimes the answer is still no.

            • No, it’s not just a big benign tumor; it’s cancer.
            • No, that shadow isn’t scar tissue; it’s a second cancer.
            • No, you’ve got tumors in your bladder again, and again, and again, and again.
• No, you didn’t get the job you’d applied for, the one that would pay your health insurance.

            I’ve never claimed to be flexible; I’ve always been a person who prefers having things her own way. Living alone is a guarantee for the small things like when dishes get done or how much clutter is tolerable. Although my part-time job allows me some flexibility, I don’t have final say over my schedule or my work. And that’s certainly true on freelance projects, where I am told no far too often for my liking.
            The important thing is not to stop calling out to God. Getting my own way isn’t nearly as important as being heard. I try not to gripe too much to my friends—it gets old, and it’s the same old, same old: the bladder cancer is back; the freelance work has again dried up. I suppose most of us have a few repetitive concerns. I know parents, for example, whose children—at 8 or 28—are their constant concern.
            Hanging onto the belief that God cares about me and my problems is a matter of faith. It isn’t always easy. I have to keep backing up to what I know—the angel told his parents that Jesus would be Emmanuel, God with us. Writing in Romans 8, Saint Paul affirms that nothing can separate us from the love of God. And isn’t that what it’s all about, anyway? Paul had first-hand experience with some of the dividing forces he mentions: hardship, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, and sword. Yet he remained convinced that we have God’s love in the midst and through all of this.
            Surviving cancer isn’t always easy, and there are likely to be resounding nos along the way. But we can continue to call on God all day long, knowing God is there, listening.

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