Sunday, March 8, 2009

Why do I love the Lord?

I love the Lord, because He has heard My voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live. (Psalm 116:1-2)
We read this in church today and it really rang true for me. It also struck me that it would be hard for people to feel love for the Lord who feel as though the Lord hasn't heard their supplications.

1 comment:

Nancy Ferguson said...

Hi Malcolm,
I found your blog after reading Geneva’s—it’s fascinating. I admire the generous and open way in which you share your thoughts, and I think it is very cool that your blog is helping to build a community of faith. :) (I also vote for keeping your face in the header—it creates a very friendly vibe and conveys a nice sense that we are all seekers and learners.)

I hope you don’t mind a response here from my Anglican tradition (I know it’s “New Church Thought”, so I am off topic!!!). I think your question here is very important for pastors to grapple with, since their flocks may include many people with this issue. It’s something I’ve thought a lot about as a therapist, too.

I’ve found that some of the most deeply hurt people who come to see me are adults who, when continually molested or battered as children, repeatedly asked God to protect them. Some came to believe that their prayers for help were either unheard or unanswered. Even worse, many were taught as children to believe that prayers will be answered in much the same way that letters from Santa Claus are; they may even believe or fear that God allowed them to be harmed as a sort of punishment.

My tradition leads me to believe that guiding such people to a deeper, more mature understanding of the ways in which God works in our lives is key. I’ve found that gently encouraging people to identify their childhood beliefs and to begin to reevaluate them with adult eyes can be the starting point for a new kind of relationship with God, and the beginning of peace. (An interesting, fun, and non-threatening resource for that sort of pastoral care/conversation is the book "Children's Letters to God" .)

Sticking with scripture, I like the way in which Psalm 10 begins with the cry of one who struggles with the feeling that God stands far off in times of trouble. Yet even while these terrible things happen, we are told, “But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it and take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the father of the fatherless” and “You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry…” Similarly, I think Psalm 77 is one of our most beautiful models of a despairing person (much like the person you wonder about in your post) finding a path to peace and faith.