What I’m Thinking: Responding

There is not one formula for responding to stresses and tragedies. It depends on where you are and what resources you have to respond with.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the rather grim story that takes up the middle of chapter six in Mark’s Gospel (Mark 6:14-29). It’s Mark’s account of the death of John the Baptist.

You probably remember that John had been arrested by King Herod in part because John dared to publicly criticize Herod’s marriage. Herod’s wife Herodias (yes, I know, it’s a similar name) had previously been married to one of Herod’s brothers. Under some interpretations of the Law, this was forbidden. It turns out that was the interpretation John the Baptist held and proclaimed.

Herod did not want to execute the Baptist; Herodias had no such restraint. She manipulated her daughter into manipulating King Herod, and the manipulations worked. Herod ordered John’s execution.

A bad day.

It was a bad enough day that Jesus chose to leave his teaching and healing amongst the crowds and go out to a lonely place with his disciples. I’m sure that what he sought was quiet time for prayer, for comfort, and for grieving.

In chapter seven of Amos, that prophet, when threatened with the action of the king who was no more restrained than Herodias was, he replied with defiance, with announcing that God’s word would be spoken in God’s shrine no matter whether the king thought it was his shrine or not.

Each of these are sensible, indeed, well, rather usual responses to what I could euphemistically call a “bad day,” to loss, to threat, to danger. The one: to find that time to rebuild the resources that have been sapped by the loss. The other: the clear commitment to the course on which one had set oneself.

The two of them are not really separate. It’s simply a matter of where and when you are in the course of those events. Jesus had been worn down, no doubt, by his activity, and the death of John was a severe blow. Amos – well, Amos did his own writing. My guess would be that there were more than a few times that he retreated to wherever he went to renew himself and to summon up the energy to go on. He didn’t write those down.

The point is: whether you are at that place of needing to summon up the strength, or at the point where the strength is there and you are prepared to make your stand, God is with you in both places to give you the strength and to be the strength to get you through your bad days.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: | Posted on July 6, 2021

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