I was thirteen years old, sitting in an eighth grade history class in South Carolina on the morning of September 11th, 2001. Our teacher answered a phone call, turned pale, then turned on the TV. The first image I remember is the tail of a plane sticking out of one of the twin towers. That day, part of my childhood ended. I aged as I watched people jump from the towers. My innocence fled like ash on the wind when I watched the towers fall. And that night as I listened to President George W. Bush recite Psalm 23 to the world, I wondered, “Where is God?”
Stressful situations and times of despair challenge our faith. Painful experiences rarely leave us—or our relationship with God—unchanged. But a deepening understanding of God, no matter what circumstances surround us, can create its own growing pains. Sometimes we choose to avoid the unique pain of such spiritual growth altogether. Growth, however, is characteristic of a living faith. When Jesus talks about faith, he uses stories about a tiny mustard seed that becomes a huge tree and good soil that produces a fantastic crop.
Because Jesus loves the people of his hometown, he doesn’t want their understanding of God’s love to remain so narrow. So he takes this opportunity to grow their faith by challenging their prejudices with the wideness of God’s mercy. He must have known that their response would be the opposite of merciful. Still he keeps sowing the truth, hoping some of it will take root.
When have you known the pain of a growing faith? How did you respond to that experience? Where was God in that process?
God, stretch our hearts and our understanding so that we will love more like you do. Amen.