When the same ABBA Anthony thought about the depths of the judgments of God, he asked, “Lord, how is it that some die when they are young, while others drag on too extreme old age? Why are there those who are poor and those who are rich? Why do wicked man prosper and why are the just in need ?” He heard a voice answering him, “Anthony, keep your attention on yourself; these things are according to the judgment of God, and it is not your advantage to know anything about them.”
…..Anthony of the Desert
Man has struggled for generations with the prosperity of the wicked and the lack of suffered by the just and humble. You don’t have to look very deep to see injustices in the world. It wouldn’t take you long to discover a very cruel and dishonest person who lives a life of luxury. In the same way, you would not have to go far to find someone who wishes the best for all but seems to lack the necessities of life. This dichotomy was a source of confusion for Anthony. He saw young, vibrant people being stuck down and those who could not care for their basic needs lingering on. All these things were a source of frustration for a man who sought the perfection of God.
Have you ever wondered what was the “rhyme or reason” of a confusing event in the world? Anthony did, and he wanted a solution that would solve such problems. Instead, he got an answer that would only fit Him. God told him, “Anthony, turn to your own perfection and leave the perfection of the world to me.” Many of us, like Anthony, spend an undue amount of time and anxiety trying to fix the world and forget that we are broken as well. God wants to make you whole so that you may spread that wholeness to the world. How do we become whole?
When I was in formation to become a United Methodist Elder, my mentor shared a truism from Native American Culture. He spoke of how the Tribal Council sat in a circle surrounded by their personal hoops. The moral was that they had to “tend their own hoops’ before they had anything to say to the council. Nothing they said was of any value unless they began with themselves. That’s interesting, because it is the very same thing that the monk is hearing from God when he says, “Anthony, keep your attention on yourself.” Those words ring as loudly for us as they did for Anthony those many years ago. We must accept the reality that the only person we can really change is ourselves and hope that that change will profit those that surround us. Our change becomes an inspiration for their change.
In spite of that reality, it can get very frustrating to watch the many apparent inequities and injustices that surround us, but we must remember that we are marching on to perfection. We are praying every day I hope, “Thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.” We strive for that intersection of heaven and earth to come in our own lives so that we might understand why things are as the are and leave it to God.
The rhyme or reason is not for us to know. We are called to leave it with God.
Lord, help me this day to see to the shortcomings of my walk. Allow me to outstretch a hand of understanding and grace to all you send my way. Relieve me of the torture of the many “whys” of life and give me the peace that comes with striving to be one with you.