Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? (Isaiah 58:6-7 NIV)
I didn’t want to get out of bed today. I didn’t want to clean the house, or face the cold day and possible icy evening. I wanted my cup of coffee, but our Keurig stopped working today. We pulled out the old coffee maker and had our coffee, but it took me most of the day to get out this cranky mood. Coffee makers, weather and busy weeks steal my joy sometimes, I’m not going to lie. I wish it weren’t true.
I read some Scriptures this morning (Isaiah 58 and Psalm 51), which really didn’t improve my mood, because they opened up questions and griefs over sinful habits of letting coffee makers, weather and busy weeks overwhelm me. I pulled out my journal to process my crankiness, which was good, I realized I was complaining, so I shifted to giving thanks, writing out the abc’s of my gratitude. That helped some, but I was still chafing inside over some unnamed grief.
I retreated to my hammock with the dog, and just stared at the ceiling, looking around the room with one sky blue wall, and mulled over my thoughts. I got up to sort laundry and eat lunch.
I worked on questions for a study that I’m doing with a friend (Before Amen by Max Lucado). What often happens is that I think I’m just going to read a book and answer questions, and then I encounter God in the pages. This week, we were studying the authority of Jesus, and why we pray in His name. One of the questions posed got me to thinking about how much do I really believe in God’s power. God’s power to overcome injustices, to help the poor and needy. And I confessed my failure to participate in causes that address social injustice. My failure to observe the kind of fast God desires.
I can’t relieve the pain of young women in the Middle East who have been devastated by rape and violence. I can’t stop religious authorities from abusing their power. I can’t offer a room for the homeless in my home. I can’t take away the sins of the world.
But Jesus can.
And there are some simple things He showed me to do.
Like give away some winter socks and most of the hats, scarves and gloves that I’ve accumulated over the years to a homeless shelter. How many winter gloves does one person need?! (I don’t even want to admit how many I gave away.)
I prayed for the girl (in the news report from last night) in the Middle East to know Jesus, the one who can give her the light of life, restore her will to live, even in light of the abhorrent harm that was done to her. That Jesus would come and wipe away the tears that seeped out of her eyes and stained the veil that covered her face. That Jesus would give hope to those who have been victimized by others, who carelessly abuse authority and power. “Oh, Jesus, please help them. I am helpless” is all that I can offer.
And I can’t even help my own family and dear friends in all the ways they need help, but I can audaciously trust Jesus to help them.
The simple grief of saying good-bye to a coffee maker that served us well for several years softened my heart. A gift from my thoughtful husband, who appreciated that I didn’t like making a whole pot of coffee, when he used travel more often. A symbol of shared moments with my family and friends over a cup of coffee. This little grief observed helped me realize that my unnamed grief was my impotence to stop the injustices of this world. Confessing my helplessness, choosing to believe Jesus sees the young woman from the news report eased my sorrow. He knows her name, even though I don’t. He can intercede in her life in ways I never could. In Him all things hold together.