From the Complaint Department
The sun will no more be your light by day … for God will be your everlasting light; and all your days of sorrow will end. “I am the Lord; I will do this swiftly, in its time.” – Isaiah 60:19-22
With all due respect, God, sometimes the Bible makes you sound like one of those slick lawyers we make fun of, until we need one—all loopholes and weasel words, wiggle room and disclaimers.
You announce a new world: the lamb finally able to sleep through the night without keeping one eye open for the lion, an end to pain and sorrow, just you for light. “I will do this swiftly,” you say in your gorgeous James Earl Jones voice. Then, under your breath, the fine print: “In its time.”
In its time. When the time comes. In good time. In my own sweet time. That’s what my boss said when I complained that I hadn’t yet seen a promised raise. It’s what the guy running a Ponzi scheme tells panicky investors. Tell me you’re not running a scam, God. Please?
Swiftly, in its time. The thing is, God, we don’t have much time. It feels like the world is crammed into a hand-basket on a fast track to hell, circling the drain. Mixed clichés, but how else to put it? It’s Lent. There’s a lot of liturgical suffering ahead of us to contemplate, as if we didn’t see enough actual suffering in the world. Every year we do this. You see how that prompts my complaint? And that it’s not an unreasonable one? You understand why I ask?
How long, O Lord? You’ve heard that before, I know. We ask it a lot. That’s because we need the world you promise. We need you to vindicate our sticking with you all this time, to redeem our suffering and crown our deaths with life. We’re not going away. If you don’t answer now, you’ll be hearing from us again.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.