September 10, 2021

Joyful Witness / Kimberly Pohovey

God never turns his back on us despite our behavior

Kimberly PohoveyPalm to the forehead in a pose commonly referred to today as a “face plant.” Head slanted down and slightly shaking back and forth in what can only be interpreted as disappointment. This is how I picture God as he takes in his vast creation in the midst of our man-made problems.

Our planet is experiencing immense changes in weather—from increased floods and fires to hurricanes and earthquakes, from intense heat waves to rising sea levels. Despite the politicization of climate change, we have all been experiencing irrefutable evidence of these changes. I imagine God surveying the vast expanse of his creation and seeing the damage done to our environment, to rivers and lakes, to our polar ice caps, the atmosphere, rain forest and ocean reefs, and thinking to himself, “I gave them seemingly unlimited resources and unparalleled beauty, and they have squandered this gift.”

Through his eyes, he must see war, violence, crime, racism, poverty and unfathomable atrocities against humanity. I envision him weeping to see how humans treat one another. I envision him saying aloud, “I gave them one another that they might show compassion, work together and experience community, but they often turn their backs on each other.”

He must examine the state of COVID throughout the world and wonder at how we cannot seem to collaborate to make sure everyone is protected, much less eradicate the virus. I can only imagine that God is dismayed to see his children not willing to come together and make necessary sacrifices to ensure the health and safety of all. I can hear him saying, “I expected them to put others before their own rights, freedoms and selfish agendas.”

Anyone who is a parent, teacher, coach or guided a youth in their life knows the feeling of disappointment when a young person does not live up to expectations, or wastes the gifts and talents entrusted to them. Imagine that feeling on a global scale and among the more than 7 billion inhabitants of this planet. When I think of it from that perspective, I am astonished that God does not give up on us.

And yet, he does the exact opposite. He continually lavishes us with his love—whether we deserve it or not. He offers us infinite chances to try again and make things right. He offers us charity, provides light and gives us hope—that we might rectify our mistakes and live as the people for which he has created us.

He inspires in us ingenuity that we might solve problems, generosity that we may support programs, projects and people, and empathy that we might better understand what it means to walk in another’s footsteps.

Despite the disappointing way we, as humanity, have conducted ourselves, he renews in us a passion to embrace an uncertain future with faith. And he leads us to trust that he holds the whole world in the palm of his hand. He alone will provide us what we need to change our fate, to truly care for one another, to persevere.

What is needed from us is belief in his providence, faith in his countenance and trust in his power to make all things right.

(Kimberly Pohovey is a member of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis. She is the director of major and planned gifts for the archdiocese.) †

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