Why me, Lord?

When bad things happen to us, there is a tendency to say, ‘Why me, Lord?’ Intellectually, we know we could with equal truth say, ‘Why not me?’ but the temptation to believe we have been singled out for some especially bad luck/fate is strong. It is so unfair, we murmur, what have we done to deserve this? Most of the time we haven’t done anything to ‘deserve’ what happens to us, good or ill, but trying to make sense of what happens to us, to assert our mastery over our fate, is as old as the hills. Understanding what happens is as important as what actually occurs, but very often we haven’t the necessary knowledge or we lack the assurance to interpret the facts correctly. That’s when we turn to the experts, but the experts themselves are often at a loss to explain why this person went blind or that person got cancer or the one over there was swept away by a tsunami. We invoke science, not realising that what science doesn’t yet know is as huge as what it does know.

Personally, I find the prospect of there being an infinity of knowledge to discover and explore utterly fascinating. We can rejoice in the complexity of the world around us and be very glad to be living now, when much that was formerly hidden has been made plain. It should enhance our sense of God’s beauty and majesty. More importantly, it should help convince us of God’s love for his creation and give credibility to his assertion that the very hairs of our head have been numbered. There may be days when we stumble around asking ‘Why me, Lord?’ but, hopefully, there are many more when we just say, ‘Thank you, Lord’ and glory in what his hands have wrought. May today be one such for you.

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Starfish

This article about starfish on the BBC web site caught my attention this morning. Anyone who has sarcoidosis or asthma or even plain old arthritis will recognize at once the potential here hinted at. When the body’s immune system rages out of control and inflammation levels rocket sky-high, the only available therapies have unpleasant side-effects. (That michelin-man look may be prednisolone- rather than Macdonald’s- induced.)

It’s a striking reminder how much we have still to learn about the natural world. The number of endangered species on the planet is frightening. We lament, rightly, what their loss would mean in terms of biodiversity and beauty. What we tend not to consider is how much our own species stands to lose. Many of us are still too hung up on energy to consider the wider implications of species loss: possible medical benefits and the like.

The Christian Churches do not have a united response to ecology questions but there is in the Rule of St Benedict a guiding principle we can apply. The cellarer of the monastery is to treat all its goods and property “as though they were sacred altar vessels”. There couldn’t be a clearer statement of our responsibilities towards the natural world or the material things we use. What God has created is good and should be treated in a good way because everything in creation is of interest and concern to him and ultimately for our good, too.

To put it another way: it isn’t only every sparrow that has been counted, it’s every starfish, too.

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