Love and Meaning

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 — Week of Proper 18

John Henry Hobart, Bishop of New York, 1830

[Go to for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

(Book of Common Prayer, p. 983)

Psalms 119:49-72 (morning) // 49, [53] (evening)

Job 29:1, 30:1-2, 16-31

Acts 14:19-28

John 11:1-16

The power of love and the presence of meaning can be stronger than death itself.

We’re reading some of the most exquisite poetry of suffering in this section of Job. Job’s anguish is real at many levels. He suffers physically. His friends have failed him. He has lost family, fortune and his place in community. Yet throughout his lament, his deepest cry is for some sense of meaning within his misery. His cry is to God. Why? His deepest desire is for God to speak to him and to show him the cause of his grief and a purpose behind his anguish. It is essentially the cry of love. He has loved and followed God. Why has God now abandoned him to this? His deepest despair within his suffering is the absence of love and and the loss of meaning.

Paul, on the other hand, is doing what he loves most. He is spreading the message that has given meaning to his life. It is dangerous work and hard. In Lystra Paul is stoned, dragged out of the city and left for dead. “But when the disciples surrounded him, he got up and went into the city. The next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe.” Amazing. There is a regenerative power in love and meaningful living.

Finally we read of Jesus learning of Lazarus, “he whom you love is ill.” Jesus recognizes a purpose and meaning in Lazarus’ illness. “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” He establishes the foundation upon which Lazarus will be resuscitated from the dead.

Human beings can survive and prevail over great suffering and travail as long as our lives have meaning and love at their core. It is the source of our courage. It is regenerative. And its absence is life threatening.

What meaning inspires our lives? What love regenerates us?

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