Eternal Comfort in the Arms of God

April 30, 2006

Original Post Date:  4/30/2006

I heard this excerpt in my adult ed hour at church this morning, in the context of taking comfort in God during the times we are lost in sorrow and despair, even depression.  The scripture we were studying was from 1 Kings, where Elijah finds comfort from God under a tree after fleeing from Jezebel's wrath, and finds himself all alone.  Read the story here.

Some of the comments from the class were helpful to me- that our culture seems to prefer highlighting what is wrong instead of what is right, preferring the critical voice to the voice of praise.  As a result, we oftentimes find ourselves focusing on what is going wrong in the world instead of what is going right.

"A Brief for the Defense" from Refusing Heaven, by Jack Gilbert

Sorrow everywhere.  Slaughter everywhere.  If babies are not starving someplace, they are starving somewhere else.  With flies in their nostrils.  But we enjoy our lives because that's what God wants.  Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not be made so fine.  The Bengal tiger would not be fashioned so miraculously well.  The poor women at the fountain are laughing together between the suffering they have known and the awfulness in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody in the village is very sick.  There is laughter every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.  If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction, we lessen the importance of their deprivation.  We must risk delight.  We can do without pleasure, but not delight.  Not enjoyment.  We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.  To make injustice the only measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.  If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down, we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.  We must admit there will be music despite everything.  We stand at the prow again of a small ship anchored late at night in the tiny port looking over to the sleeping island; the waterfront is three shuttered cafes and one naked light burning.  To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth all the years of sorrow that are to come.


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