We often face difficult and painful—and sometimes even devastating—experiences. We encounter defeat, failure, loss, and death. Such experiences may seem to be punishment, and we can begin to feel vengeful toward someone or something we blame for causing these experiences. Even in scripture, people regress to vengeance in the face of defeat and failure.
Human life is finite. It has limits. These limits include not only the reality of death but also the reality of occasional failure and defeat. Each of us is finite, and no matter how enduring they seem, our culture, society, institutions, and government are finite. They will change, fail, and be defeated in ways we do not expect. Accepting our finitude opens us to a more gracious way of experiencing failure and defeat.
How does our faith enable us to deal with the realities of failure, defeat, and death? What was once a wonderful life is now desolate. At one time I experienced myself as capable, liked, and competent, but now I feel a failure and rejected. Maybe something has changed in my church, community, or nation that has led me to these feelings of failure and defeat.
In faith we can see these experiences as teaching moments that shock us back into realization of our imperfection as human beings in an immense cosmos. They are wake-up experiences! Our failings can remind us that we are God’s creatures.
Our imperfections are not evidence of total failure, defeat, or final death. Rather, they are doorways through which we enter spiritual transformation. Human imperfection invites us to let go of our ego and to live in faith in God’s ultimate love.
Imagine letting go of your balance and falling backward into God’s strong and loving hands. Ask God for faith to do so, and express gratitude to God for promising to hold you in love.
Lamentations opens with a description of the plight of the people of Judah, the Southern Kingdom. The people have been taken into exile as part of God’s judgment for their idolatry. The psalmist struggles to sing the songs of the Lord. In fact, those who overthrew Jerusalem have forced them to sing for their amusement, so the joy is gone. The psalmist prays that one day God will repay the invaders. In Second Timothy Paul praises God for Timothy’s faith and for the legacy of faith that comes through his family. He charges him to preach boldly and without hesitation the gospel of Christ. In the Gospel reading, Jesus challenges the disciples to show greater faith and to understand that we are all servants in God’s kingdom.
Read Lamentations 1:1-6. How do you allow your imperfections and failings to transform you?
Read Psalm 137. How do you remember your spiritual traditions and sacred places without clinging to them in the rapid changes of our world? How do you look for God’s work in change?
Read 2 Timothy 1:1-14. What spiritual practices help you to “guard the good treasure entrusted to you”?
Read Luke 17:5-10. How might a posture of cyclical servanthood to and with all creation transform or increase your faith?
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