Difficult Questions of Suffering   1 comment

guido_reni_-_massacre_of_the_innocents

Above:  The Massacre of the Innocents, by Guido Reni

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The Collect:

O Lord God, you know that we cannot place our trust in our own powers.

As you protected the infant Jesus, so defend us and all the needy from harm and adversity,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 20

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The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 31:15-22 (December 29)

Isaiah 26:1-9 (December 30)

Psalm 20 (both days)

Luke 19:41-44 (December 29)

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (December 30)

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Some Related Posts:

 Jeremiah 31:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/fourth-day-of-christmas-feast-of-the-holy-innocents-december-28/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/devotion-for-november-14-15-and-16-lcms-daily-lectionary/

Luke 19:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/devotion-for-the-forty-fifth-and-forty-sixth-days-of-easter-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/28/week-of-proper-28-thursday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/week-of-proper-28-thursday-year-2/

Isaiah 26:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/fifth-day-of-advent/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-9-lcms-daily-lectionary/

2 Corinthians 4:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/08/03/proper-5-year-b/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/devotion-for-august-25-and-26-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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From God’s holy place may you receive help;

may God strengthen you out of Zion.

–Psalm 20:2, Book of Common Worship (1993)

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In the Jeremiah reading God comforts the Israelite nation.  They have sinned, yes, and the negative consequences of persistently bad actions will ensue.  But exiles will also return in time.  In the midst of punishment grace speaks.  The beginning of the passage reappears in Matthew 2:18, in the context of Herod the Great’s massacre of the Holy Innocents.  The Collect from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006) reminds us that God spared the life of young Jesus.  Yet others died in his place.

The readings for these two days combine to constitute a certain tension.  God is faithful and will be merciful after either allowing punishment to occur or after meting out punishments.  Yet the latter God does not do happily.  Nevertheless, innocent people suffer because they were at the wrong place at the wrong time.  The readings from December 26 (http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/devotion-for-december-26-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/) tell us that this does not indicate that God has been negligent in divine duties.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18 joins the chorus of affirming voices:

So we do not lose heart.  Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.  For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.

The New Revised Standard Version

Theodicy is a risky endeavor.  God is best qualified to justify self to human questions, of course.  And our ideas (or at least some of them) might prove false.  But, if God is truly the one and only deity–as I affirm–then God is in the dock.  I, as an honest Monotheist, cannot blame one deity for bad events and credit another for negative ones.  But one of my favorite spiritual inheritances from the Jews, my elder siblings in faith, is the right to argue with God faithfully.  I want answers to issues such as the suffering of the innocent.  Until or unless I get them, however, I still have a healthy relationship with God.  And I intend to continue to have one for the rest of my days and afterward.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 19, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT POEMEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINTS JOHN THE DWARF AND ARSENIUS THE GREAT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONKS

THE FEAST OF SAINT AMBROSE AUTPERT, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN PLESSINGTON, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MACRINA THE YOUNGER, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/devotion-for-december-29-and-30-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

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One response to “Difficult Questions of Suffering

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  1. Pingback: Devotion for December 29 and 30, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary) | ADVENT, CHRISTMAS, AND EPIPHANY DEVOTIONS

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