Good Morning, Beloved Congregation.
I just read the article by D.T. Wright that has been posted on the First Baptist Moorestown Facebook site. He reminds us that as Christians, it’s not our job to have answers to the questions about why bad things happen to good people, and vice versa.
He recalls to us the Psalms of Lament, and lets us know that weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth are perfectly normal and acceptable ways to respond in tough times of grief and loss.
But most of those prayers of lament end with hope in God. They remind us that God has been faithful in the past, so why would God stop doing that now?
All this reminded me of a children’s story I told in church many times. I called it “The Irritated
Oyster.” It starts with a question: Do you know how pearls are made? (Having a pearl as a prop
is always helpful!) Real pearls come from oysters, of course. Sometimes little grains of sand get
inside the oyster’s shell, and it irritates the poor little thing if it can’t be expelled. So God made oysters to be able to deal with the problem of sharp grains of sand by making them able to coat that grain with a smooth secretion. In the end, that irritating grain becomes a smooth, beautiful pearl. It’s something miserable and irritating being shaped into something lovely and good.
I know from experience, and I think you do, too, that this transformation from the worst thing that could happen to us to the best, most healthy thing, happens all the time. It has always seemed to me to be what God does.
It’s part of who God is.
So in these difficult times, we can lament and grieve with the psalmist. That’s where many of us are right now. There is necessary grief when that grain of sand is so sharp to the point of wounding. But with God, it’s never the end of things.
The oyster makes a lovely pearl, and God brings good out of evil. Many of us today are the pearls that started with a grain of sand.
Maybe that’s our job now - lamenting, not explaining, but lamenting our current situations. Then, not just stopping there, but keeping in mind always to look for what God is going to do with them. It has long been part of my faith that when something hard or weird or seemingly insurmountable happens in my life, my immediate prayerful response has always been, “Well, God, I can’t wait to see what you’re going to do with this one.” And then be ready to follow along.
As we wait together in hope and love, may the peace of Christ be with you.