Every morning, I stand in a circle with my coworkers as we rattle off prayer requests.
It’s a practice that I’ve never experienced at a workplace, and I like it. I like knowing what’s going on with the people I work with, and standing with them in solidarity -- in the good and the bad -- and bringing everything before God.
But I have to be honest. It’s also really hard for me.
Young moms battling cancer, loved ones dying from cancer, college students being diagnosed with cancer….
We pray for everyone, and we go about our day, where I sit in front of the computer and see headlines about baby powder and laminated tiles causing cancer.
I know that God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear, but I am afraid. And honestly, I’m sad.
My heart breaks when my friend of 15 years tells me her mom died, and a co-worker tearfully announces that she, too, was diagnosed with cancer.
I’m afraid of the household products I use every day, and of the food I eat. I’m afraid of losing the people I love the most. I’m afraid of watching them suffer.
I know that we are supposed to cast our cares on God. “Just have faith, don’t worry,” people who are either better Christians or JUST LIARS say.
But guess what? When people say that, all I feel is guilt and shame on top of worry.
I do trust God. Bad things have happened to me and I’ve been okay. Good things have happened to me, too. But trusting God doesn’t change the fact that everything is broken.
I recently texted my best friend and told her that everything is horrible and we are all going to die from things like tile and shampoo.
“You just have to do your best and realize nothing is going to help you cheat death,” she said.
This made me feel only moderately better. I’m not trying to cheat death, but I think it’s fair to say nobody wants to get cancer, or worse, watch a loved one suffer from it.
It so happens that at the same time I’m reading Rabbi Harold S. Kushner’s latest book, “Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life.”
Kushner is the author of “When Bad Things Happen to Good People,” a book he wrote after he lost a child.
I would never have picked this book up on my own because I find the title extremely boring, but that’s the good thing about being part of a faith community that thinks outside the box for Lent.
And I’m finding immeasurable comfort in Kushner’s words:
“God does not send the problem, the illness, the accident, the hurricane, and God does not take them away when we find the right words and rituals with which to beseech him,” he writes.
“Rather, God sends us strength and determination of which we did not believe ourselves capable, so that we can deal with, or live with, problems that no one can make go away.”
Okay, I’m listening….
“It isn’t God’s job to make sick people healthy. That’s the doctor’s job. God’s job is to make sick people brave, and in my experience, that’s something God does really well.”
This is a God I’m learning how to trust. And even if that doesn’t change the fact that the world is broken, maybe it will at least change me.