I had a million questions for Jesus when my husband lost his job. “Are you friggin kidding me?!” “Why are you doing this to us?” “Don’t you see that we have a house, three kids, and I’m unemployed?”
I’m good at questions, especially accusatory questions. During that really difficult season of our life I would sit in front of the crucifix in our kitchen, and a powerful river of questions streamed out of mouth right into Jesus’ face. Each episode left me weak and angry, making it harder to get through my daily obligations.
On one of these silently-screaming occasions, my oldest son came over from the living room where he was entranced by the TV and gave me a hug. It was a powerful hug for a five-year-old. Then he walked away.
That torrent of questions I sprayed at the cross came back to me in a wave of pure, uncomplicated, unconditional love. The Lord spoke to me the words of the Shema, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone!” (Deut 6:4).
God broke through in that fundamental prayer, to proclaim the only answer to Every. Single. Question: Praise. That day, my son reminded me that our purpose is to live out the Gospel, even when it takes all our strength. God’s job is to be God.
I stopped spitting questions at God and praised him instead, whether it was with zeal, or a meek “I love you,” I focused on showing more love to my husband and kids, recalling that they, too, were in this boat with me.
If you are in a difficult, angry, or even sorrowful season in this moment, and if all you can do is look at the crucifix and ask him, “But, why?”, try a simple switch from question to proclamation, “You are God.” Jesus will look at you and smile with his Precious face, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God, daughter.”
In Jewish tradition, the Shema is prayed during morning and evening prayer. It’s recited almost as a cleansing or centering prayer, similar to our Glory Be during the Liturgy of the Hours. Pray Deuteronomy 6:4 slowly. Remind yourself of this truth. Commit this verse to memory.
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone!”