Most of us have been involved with people in great pain and have felt helpless. Someone has been suffering so much and there just does not seem to be any way to alleviate it. We are frustrated and we ask, “What can we do?” Elijah the prophet knew this frustration (I Kings 17:17-24). He is being given food and shelter by a very kind and generous woman and her son dies. Wanting to do something for this poor woman no doubt he asked, “What can I do?” Jesus faces a similar situation when he enters a town to preach about God’s goodness and encounters a woman who had already lost her husband in death who is now having a funeral for her only son who has died (Luke 7:11-17). He must have looked on that sad scene and asked, “What can I do?
In these Scripture stories, both Elijah and Jesus seem to move from the question, “What can I do?” to asking “What can God do?” With this question, they were able to do something after all. Elijah, turning the focus from himself and on to God, breathed life back into the woman’s dead child. Jesus, invoking his heavenly Father, bid the widow’s lifeless son to get up and indeed he did. In both of these situations, Elijah and Jesus used their human compassion, tender words and caring touches, combined them with their reliance on God and things happened.
In our situations of seeming helplessness, there is something we can do. We can use our human resources, whatever they may be, and call upon God to be part of what we are doing. This is a powerful combination. As Christians, we are not to simply comfort people and try to make things better. We are also to give glory to God through our attempts to help people in need. The special gift we bring to those times is the presence of God. We all have that gift to give. The challenge is to remember that we have it.
After Elijah called on God to be with him in that most tragic situation of the dying boy, the mother said, “Now I know you are a man of God.” When Jesus gave glory to God by restoring life to the widow’s son the people said, “This day God has visited his people.” God visits hurting people over and over again through us when we do what we can do and leave the rest to God.
Together in faith,
Fr. Tuyen Nguyen, Vice-Rector Fr. Christopher Smith, Rector