My first spiritual reading for 2021 is William A. Meninger’s The Loving Search for God.
This book consists of bite sized reflections on contemplative prayer. For the past half dozen chapters, he has been reflecting on Jesus reciting Ps. 22 on the cross. Grappling with the collision of despair and trust in God contained in that psalm.
How do these two conflicting realities coexist? Meninger points to 12-step programs. People often have to hit bottom before they can start going up. And when you’re in that “bottom,” like Jesus on the cross, your faith in God’s salvation has no form. It’s just trust that God has a way through this muckfest, even if you can’t see what it is.
“Misery was so great he was not able even to imagine what that salvation would consist in,” Meninger says.
When I read these words, I literally caught my breath for a moment. Because that is precisely what I’ve been feeling for the past few months, as the world seems to burn around me. Where is salvation in this situation? Where is the way forward, when anger and division are so great that we can’t even agree on what constitutes “truth” and “lie”?
And oddly (or perhaps not so oddly), there is comfort in knowing that this is when God really shows power through our weakness. Because God can make a way where there isn’t one. There’s comfort in the reassurance that God can use the worst failures of humanity to awaken the collective conscience and bring us, well… closer, anyway, to on track.
Come, Lord Jesus.