12 October 2017
You say harsh things about me, says the Lord. You ask, ‘What have we said against you?’ You say, ‘It is useless to serve God; what is the good of keeping his commands or of walking mournfully before the Lord of Hosts? Now we have reached the point when we call the arrogant blessed; yes, they prosper, these evil-doers; they try God’s patience and yet go free.’ This is what those who fear the Lord used to say to one another. But the Lord took note and heard them: a book of remembrance was written in his presence recording those who fear him and take refuge in his name. On the day which I am preparing, says the Lord of Hosts, they are going to be my own special possession. I will make allowances for them as a man makes allowances for the son who obeys him. Then once again you will see the difference between an upright man and a wicked one, between the one who serves God and the one who does not serve him. For the day is coming now, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and the evil-doers will be like stubble. The day that is coming is going to burn them up, says the Lord of Hosts, leaving them neither root nor stalk. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will shine out with healing in its rays.
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him in the middle of the night to say, “My friend, lend me three loaves, because a friend of mine on his travels has just arrived at my house and I have nothing to offer him”; and the man answers from inside the house, “Do not bother me. The door is bolted now, and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up to give it you.” I tell you, if the man does not get up and give it him for friendship’s sake, persistence will be enough to make him get up and give his friend all he wants.
‘So I say to you: Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him. What father among you would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread? Or hand him a snake instead of a fish? Or hand him a scorpion if he asked for an egg? If you then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’
“Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you”
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be an American. I read Emma Lazarus’ ‘New Colossus’ and it set my heart on fire. Our family was supposed to have emigrated when I was a child, but things didn’t work out. It is only now, as an adult, that I have found my way here. I love my adopted country deeply. We are going through an existential crisis at the moment but I know we will emerge more loving and more united. Though lost, we will find our way again. It’s a strange feeling to be praying for one’s country. But I feel we are in need of divine intervention to save us from ourselves. Perhaps this turmoil is so we might figure out who we are, and what we stand for. Perhaps this is a test — of our faith, our tenacity, our capacity to love and forgive each other and ourselves.
Jesus reminds us in today’s gospel, that when we pray, we have to “ask and you will receive, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Luke 11:9). Prayer works, but we have to be earnest in our pursuit of it. Our hearts have to be fully invested. And that’s what we are not – invested. So many of us have despaired that the only way to cope is to look away. So our prayers lack conviction. We say the words but don’t believe things can change because we can’t see that change. What is faith though, if not the belief in things yet unseen?
In Matthew 5:24, Jesus tells us we need to forgive each other before we approach God in prayer – “…leave your gift in front of the altar, go at once and make peace, and then come back and offer your gift to God”. And that’s what we don’t have – forgiveness. We refuse to make peace. We dredge up old grudges, define ourselves by our differences. But how can we stand on common ground if we refuse to even seek it?
If there is a God, and He is good, why are these things happening to us? I hear that a lot lately. People have lost their tenacity, they’re giving up even on God. But Scripture has so many examples of the fruits of persistence. God answers prayers. And He has a track record for sparing His people. So why are we giving up? Think of Moses interceding for the Hebrews as they wandered through the desert. And Abraham advocating for the Sodomites. If God could find ten good people, ten good Americans, might He not spare us too? Scripture shows that all it takes is a remnant to make a nation great again. If God could find ten good Americans, might He not save us from ourselves?
(Today’s Oxygen by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: I pray for my country, that we might find the resolve, the courage, the forgiveness to move beyond the things that are happening to us.
Thanksgiving: I give thanks for the peacekeepers, the first responders, all who labor in the belief that all it takes is a remnant to make a nation great again.