“What am I going to do?” Those are some of the saddest words anyone can speak. They convey powerlessness, confusion, abandonment and hopelessness. I think that we’ve all spoken that thought at one time or another; we certainly know the feeling.
The story of Jesus’ raising the abandoned mother’s son from death is a story of God’s absolute reliability. Widows and orphans typified the helpless and abandoned in ancient societies. There was no social structure to protect them from neglect or exploitation. The mother’s despair wasn’t only at the loss of her son, which would have been enough. It was the realization that she was now alone and defenseless before the world. That was the situation in which Jesus intervened.
There’s a bumper sticker in town that says, What am I doing in this hand basket, anyway? It always makes me smile because it succinctly captures what so many of us feel. Almost any gathering will have conversations centering on the dismal state of our politics, religion, families, economy, education, society or the world in general. People don’t usually end such discussions in despair but more likely with a what-can-you-do attitude acquiescing to the idea that we’ll just have to muddle through as best we can.
That we’ll-muddle-through attitude is a problem: understandable, but a problem still. It would be a big enough issue if we only thought that we would have to make do in life but we easily slip into accepting that others will have to make do as well. At that point things head south fast.
Somewhere in us all there’s a voice that rebels against submitting to evil. We may try to silence it, to demand realism from it, to counsel patience of it. But it gnaws at us. Christian faith gives that voice a forum. The gift of life is not evil. Evil is not an element of God’s gift. Evil is not inevitable and we do not accept it and, in our Creator’s power and Spirit, we will end it. That is the message of Jesus’ raising the widow’s son. Muddling through is not our destiny.