I really dislike platitudes. . maybe everyone does

17 May

There’s the thing; many people will say phrases like, “God has a reason”, “it was meant to be” or “God never gives us more than we can handle”.  None of these platitudes are biblical and I don’t think they are very kind either.  We can never really feel another pain  and we only know our own experience.  I just finished reading, “Winter of the World” by Ken Follett.  It is a fictional account of those who lived through WWII in Berlin, Moscow, and London.  I became painfully aware of how gentle life has been on me.

The Hebrew scripture also helps to remind us of how difficult life can be.  Life is often not what God would want.  God’s creature do not live according to God’s priorities.   In Psalm 79 God’s people have experienced the violation of their Holy Temple.  The temple of Jerusalem was destroyed on a couple of occasions.  This time the psalmist is calling out to God for help.  As you read through the first part of the psalm, open yourself to experience their grief.

1-4 God! Barbarians have broken into your home,
violated your holy temple,
left Jerusalem a pile of rubble!
They’ve served up the corpses of your servants
as carrion food for birds of prey,
Threw the bones of your holy people
out to the wild animals to gnaw on.
They dumped out their blood
like buckets of water.
All around Jerusalem, their bodies
were left to rot, unburied.
We’re nothing but a joke to our neighbors,
graffiti scrawled on the city walls.

5-7 How long do we have to put up with this, God?
Do you have it in for us for good?
Will your smoldering rage never cool down?
If you’re going to be angry, be angry
with the pagans who care nothing about you,
or your rival kingdoms who ignore you.
They’re the ones who ruined Jacob,
who wrecked and looted the place where he lived.

The writer trying to find a reason for what has happened to the temple and to God’s people, asks God to not hold them responsible for their parents sins.  This theological understanding of God has long ago gone out of fashion, but the affirmation that God is famous for helping has not.

8-10 Don’t blame us for the sins of our parents.
Hurry up and help us; we’re at the end of our rope.
You’re famous for helping; God, give us a break.
Your reputation is on the line.
Pull us out of this mess, forgive us our sins—
do what you’re famous for doing!
Don’t let the heathen get by with their sneers:
“Where’s your God? Is he out to lunch?”
Go public and show the godless world
that they can’t kill your servants and get by with it.

11-13 Give groaning prisoners a hearing;
pardon those on death row from their doom—you can do it!
Give our jeering neighbors what they’ve got coming to them;
let their God-taunts boomerang and knock them flat.
Then we, your people, the ones you love and care for,
will thank you over and over and over.
We’ll tell everyone we meet
how wonderful you are, how praiseworthy you are!

Ultimately, the writer wants God to avenge them.  And even though I have not experienced their reality, I cannot believe that God’s revenge is the way to go.  We can seek God’s help to make our life better and hopefully make life better for others.

Life is a complicated, complex, and mysterious journey.  I have never found any of it simple or easy to understand.  I don’t believe anything is “meant to be”.  I do believe that God is with us through every step of the journey and can bring a depth of meaning IF we will humble ourselves and listen for God’s leading.


One Response to “I really dislike platitudes. . maybe everyone does”

  1. Phyllis Terwilliger May 19, 2013 at 11:17 am #


    I, too, believe that God is with us every step of the journey and can bring depth of meaning IF we humble ourselves and listen for God’s leading. Thanks for you witness!


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