By: Chris Nichols
Readings: 2 Kings 4:1-7; Luke 9: 10-17; Psalm 53 2
Asking for Abundance
Loneliness has now been officially recognized as a modern disease, a sister plague to anxiety, a systemic catalyst for ‘pain’ medications that first enslave the body then the mind. Since 1999, pain, loneliness and self-medication led more than 700,000 Americans to die from drug overdoses – nearly twice the fatalities suffered in WWII, and more than 12 times as many deaths as American suffered in the Vietnam War – not counting deaths related to alcohol. We medicate against the pain of loneliness. We suffer, alone.
We were not meant to suffer, because we are never truly alone. God is always and forever surrounding us. “Fools say in their hearts,” claims the Psalmist, “There is no God.” The relational God walks with us, waiting for us to ask, just ask, for what we need. Sometimes God demonstrates cosmic abundance with high drama – producing food for 20,000 hungry people from a kid’s bag lunch. Making an artesian well out of the widow’s tiny oil jug. For myself, God seems to shore up small works of resilience against daily evil, Her quiet constancy a throbbing “YES” against the thousand cuts of “no” coming from the world.
This revelation smacked me in the head at the lowest point of self-doubt, after months of unemployment. Pacing in my house, dry of inspiration, anxious, crippled by shame. “God!” (we talked a lot, out loud.) “This is stupid! Who else can I call? What else should I do?” Gently, God answered that “I” should get over “myself.” Asking for help – accepting help! – tapped into God’s strength when my own failed.
Friends, family, colleagues – extensions of God’s abundance – were waiting to connect. How could we help each other? Where and what could I contribute, setting ego aside? How could I begin to think in “us” terms? Joint projects became healing successes. Gradually, we all helped each other. Learning to start over, a servant with beginner mind, helps me to ask every day: “God – What joy will your abundance reveal?”
Excerpts that could be used to fill in gaps throughout the 2019 Lenten guide:
“Of the heavenly things God has shone me, I can speak but a little word, not more than a honeybee can carry away on its foot from an overflowing jar.” – Meebtild of Magdeburg
“If there existed a single sense for the words of the scripture, then the first commentator who came along would discover it and other hearers would experience neither the labor of searching, nor the joy of finding.” – Eprhrem the Syrian