We have all experienced that moment when we asked God why He didn’t help us. It could have been when someone we loved was very sick, or as has been the case too often lately, yet another mindless mass-shooting in our society. We continue to pray that God would “do something” but it often seems like He chooses rather to sit back. Our experience seems to be in direct conflict with what we hear in the Gospel, when it seems that at every turn God heals and ‘makes everything OK’ for those hurting. Why didn’t God help us? God said, “According to your faith, let it be done to you.” Does that mean our faith, or lack of faith, is to blame?
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Thank you for tuning in to another episode of Be Transfigured, where we invite you to live a new life in Christ. We pray that this episode is a blessing to you and will inspire you to rededicate your life to Jesus Christ. We invite you to join us for worship or study at the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Tarpon Springs, Florida, where visitors are always welcome. We'll be back in a few moments to share some more information about our ministry.
The other day, I had a conversation with a gentleman. And I said, "Where do you find yourself on a Sunday?" He says, "Well, Father," he says, "I grew up Christian." He's not Orthodox, by the way. He says, "I grew up Christian, went to Sunday School, taught Sunday School." He says, "But lately..." And he began to weep. He says, "Lately I have difficulty believing in a God that allows so much pain and suffering in the world."
And here we are, yet again. The past couple of days, it seems like the TV is caught on a repeat cycle with another mass shooting in our society. And I felt for this man, because obviously in his own life, he has felt that God was not able to conquer his pain and suffering.
And then I recall the Gospel from this morning, and here we have a beautiful example of God relieving the suffering of several individuals. And so it occurred to me that the very beautiful and appropriate Greek saying εχει Ο Θεός not really a direct translation, but basically, "God has everything under control." εχει Ο Θεός
And so it's difficult, my brothers and sisters, when we face the struggling of the world, we face the pain and the suffering of the world. And we read Scripture readings like this morning's Gospel, and we see Christ healing over, and over, and over again. What about all those other times that God doesn't interfere, where God allows that pain and suffering?
And so I could see in this gentleman's pain. And all I could say to him was, "I understand." There's really not much left to say when someone has pain and suffering, other than, "I understand."
We've all had our own share of suffering, some more, some less. But for each and every individual one of us, that suffering is ours and it's real. And sometimes God takes it away from us and sometimes He doesn't. εχει Ο Θεός
And so in this morning's Gospel, I think it gives us the answer. The two blind men came to Jesus crying out, "Son of David, have mercy on us." And what does Christ say? He says, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" And they said, "Yes, we do believe it." "According to your faith, let it be done to you."
Does that mean, my brothers and sisters, that we don't believe enough when God doesn't relieve our suffering? Maybe. God says, "Let it be done according to your faith." So we have to be willing to accept the fact that there's something wrong in the way we believe or what we believe when God doesn't relieve our suffering.
And then as I put in the bulletin today, St. James reminds us, "You ask and you do not receive." So even from the time of the apostles, this dilemma has been part of our Christian journey. We ask God for things. We ask God to take away our suffering. We ask God to heal our family members and our friends. And sometimes we don't get what we ask for. Is it because we don't believe enough?
St. James has to say, "You do not receive because you ask for yourself." And we have to accept, my brothers and sisters, that when Christ says the healing is based upon our faith, what He's telling us is He knows better than we do what we need. εχει Ο Θεός And that if we don't get everything the way we want it, then we should maybe suggest to ourselves, maybe we're asking for the wrong thing. Maybe we're asking for the wrong thing. Maybe we're being, as St. James suggests, selfish in our own desires.
I remember when my mother was in her last days suffering from cancer, and I would pray every day for her to be healed. God healed my mother. My brothers and sisters, God always heals us. It just isn't always the way we want it to be. εχει Ο Θεός
In this morning's Gospel, these two blind men, they had faith. And what was their response to the healing? They went and got more people, and brought the demon possessed man to Christ. And at this point, Christ didn't even ask. He just healed him. But the Pharisees, the ones who were the religious elites, what was their response? They accused Jesus of cooperating with the devil, because God didn't heal the way they wanted Him to heal.
And so here we are, some 2,000 years since this story lived out in real life, each and every one of us struggling with something in our life. My invitation, my brothers and sisters, in your prayers, include the words εχει Ο Θεός. God has everything under control. And He will heal us the way we need to be healed.
Sometimes that's going to mean removing our physical suffering. Sometime it's going to mean changing the way we think about our physical suffering. Either way, God will heal us, because God has everything under His control. God knows what He's doing. And if we don't always get what we want, we have to stop blaming God. We have to stop accusing God of doing something that we don't want Him to do. He's God. We are the people. We have to start accepting in our life. εχει Ο Θεός God has it. God will take care of it.
And then as we heard in the Epistle, for those moments that God doesn't relieve the physical suffering, because we all know people who suffer, and if God hasn't relieved that, God hasn't taken that away, let's remember that beautiful invitation of St. Paul to bear with each other's burdens, to bear with the weakness of others, as the blind men did in the morning's Gospel. They were healed, so they went and they helped somebody else. When we see suffering in the world, it's our opportunity to bear with them, to hold them up, to co-suffer with them as human beings. That joyous love and opportunity to be a living expression of God's love in the world. εχει Ο Θεός
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