Rend Your Hearts
"Yet even now," declares the Lord, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments." (Joel 2:12-13)
The phone rang. It was a young Native man I was discipling. In the time I've known him, he has taught me a lot about Indigenous life in Alaska.
As we talked, he began to tell me about everything going wrong in his life. He had left the village to attend college in Fairbanks, and it just wasn’t working out. He couldn’t find a job and was struggling to survive in this new "big" city. His girlfriend became pregnant. The baby was stillborn. The grief was more than they could bear. Arguing and fighting ensued, and the relationship fell apart.
He went on to tell me, he felt God was angry with him because he had stopped attending church. He was sure that somehow he needed to do something that would garner him the favor of God. In a very real sense, he was rending his garments.
The truth for this young man is, simply: God loves him. Loves him so much that He gave his only Son to die for his sin, for my sin, for the sins of the whole world.
The world we live in is full of brokenness and suffering. But fear not, Jesus has overcome the world.
In the mysterious presence of the Christ found in his Word and Sacraments, God nurtures and sustains our faith. In the light of the Word, we see our need for a heart of repentance, and we find the strength to endure.
Lord create in us a clean heart, O God, and renew within us a right spirit! In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.