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When the Child's Cry Isn't Answered

The biblical commentator The Rev Dr Delmer Chilton relates the following story:

When I was about 12 or 13 I was in the Boy Scouts. One night at Scouts we were running a race and I tripped. I fell face down in gravel on the side of the road [and] lodged a piece of gravel [in] my forehead.

The rural medical clinic was a mile or so down the road from our meeting place. The Doctor and my father were both assistant Scoutmasters so they gathered me up and took me [there].

The doctor was good but his bedside manner was a bit on the brusque side. As I lay there on that cold, hard metal table he came at me with a huge needle to numb my forehead. I’m still not very fond of needles, but then I was deathly afraid of them.

I looked over at my Daddy and began to cry out, “Daddy, Daddy, daddy, please Daddy. Don’t let him hurt me, please Daddy. Daddy, Daddy, Daddy."

The doctor threw a leg over me to hold me down, put his left arm down on my chest and proceeded to inject the needle. All the while I continued to cry and beg and plead for my Daddy to make him stop. And just as the needle entered I saw my Daddy’s hands, knuckles white as he clutched my jacket. I looked up and saw a tear in the corner of his eye. It was the only time I ever, ever saw him cry.

Daddy, Daddy, Daddy. I was heard, oh yes, I was heard. And I was denied.

Chilton continues by remarking:

Just like Jesus. This is the great and wondrous mystery of our faith:
Wherever are, God in Christ has been; fully, completely, totally.

Think about the most scared, lonely, and troubled you’ve ever been.

And Jesus has been there.

Think about the moments when you’ve felt ignored and abandoned by God.

And Jesus has been there.

Think about all the times when you just didn’t know if you could make it.

And Jesus has been there.

The Promise of the Gospel is not that if you are a Christian life will be easy. The Gospel is not about ways to make your life, your marriage,  your career, your children or anything else work out in a way pleasing to yourself.

The Gospel is the call to follow Jesus to the cross and beyond:

To follow Jesus in serving the poor and needy.

To follow Jesus in reaching out to the despised and rejected.

To follow Jesus in standing up for those who are oppressed and ill-served by the world.

To follow Jesus in fighting against illness and evil wherever they may be found.
And sometimes—sometimes-- following Jesus to the cross means we will suffer for our commitments, that we too will be rejected and scorned as much as those with whom we take our stand.

Yes, Jesus calls us to follow him.

It’s not an easy way.

It’s not a painless path.

It’s not likely to be smooth sailing.

It’s the Way of the Cross.

- Catherine Dempesy, excerpted from "Crying with God this Lent," a sermon preached on March 25, 2012 at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, Buffalo, NY