Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. – 1 Corinthians 4:1 (NRSV)
This Lent, the Seven Ladies and I are reading Alicia Britt Chole’s 40 Days of Decrease: A Different Kind of Hunger. A Different Kind of Fast. Part of the premise of the book (or at least how I’m approaching it) is that Lent is a time of preparation for us to be awed by the resurrection. This is different from how we usually approach Lent. After we fast from whatever it is we choose to give us, the resurrection almost seems a relief by the time we get through Lent and Holy Week: “Thank goodness I can eat chocolate / drink coffee / have a glass of wine again!”
Only eight days into the book, I can see how it is the right time for our group to encounter it. The entry I read today was about fasting from fixing things. We are fixers in our western society. We love to give advice, avoid conflict, and rush through grief. As people of faith, we especially want God to fix the impossible things. With respect to God’s miracles, Chloe writes:
Today, God provides bread. Today, God calms the storm. Tomorrow’s needs and storms cannot void the reality of today’s miracles any more than today’s miracles can void the potential of tomorrow’s needs and storms…. The church in general panics when miracles miscarry. We scurry clumsily about to prop up God’s sagging reputation.
Sure of God’s goodness, does this goodness erode when we are faced with the horrible? This is the true crisis of faith for a believer as we try to reconcile what we think (and want to) believe with the reality of our life. I don’t think I can answer the because I haven’t had a miracle transformed in this way.
Instead, I ask the question, “Can suffering be wiped out by a miracle?” I know the answer is no. Yesterday’s suffering is still real and lasting even in the face of today’s miracle. Our pain is not erased, rendered unimportant or unreal, when faced with God’s grace. This may really be what the goodness and love of God is.
When I met with my spiritual advisor this week, she greeted me with this prayer: “May you walk with hope into the mystery of God.” Today, I will fast from fixing things but I’m also going to fast from requiring God to fix things. Instead I will give thanks for the ministry of presence in the midst of both suffering and celebration. May you join me as we walk with hope.