Reflections and Laments: Out of the Mouths of Babes
Psalm 8: “Out of the mouths of babes and nursing infants, You have ordained strength”
Reflection: In good times, bull markets, and gentle environments most of us are enamored with our self-exertions and the wonderous exercise of our brains and brawn. Fed by a steady diet of stories of self-made people, mastery of nature, and managing of others, we measure our excellence by the range and depth of our control. We vote into power strongmen rather than sensible ones. We hanker to associate with the cool, the famous and the influential.
But then the inevitable happens. Tragedy strikes, war breaks out, the market crashes, or a world-wide pandemic exposes the depth of our frailty and vulnerability. The curtain is pulled back, and our self-reliant stories are revealed for what they are: mythologies.
And it’s precisely in times of anxiety, loss and instability that we need to hear anew the words of Psalm 8. God’s excellence is revealed through weak and inarticulate lips! The Almighty associates with the most vulnerable! Come again? True power elevates the neglected, the forgotten, the ostracized, the excluded! True Majesty is found not in self-assertion and bootstrapping, but in standing with and for the powerless. The truest strength is not in the voice that mocks, in the fist that grabs, or in the foot that crushes. It’s in the arm that heals, in the hand that shares resources with weaker creatures.
COVID-19 reveals not only our radical vulnerability. It certainly brings back into focus the biblical truth that we are like grass – passing and perishing. But the virus also pushes us into a corner to alter our behavior for the sake of vulnerable others – the elderly, the asthmatic, the diabetic. And so, COVID-19 is also a call to embody suffering love. Christians will embrace this challenge, because loving the most vulnerable is how God’s majestic name is spread throughout all the world. Regardless of what market strategists, politicians or pundits say, Christians stand for the voiceless and the frailest of creatures, because that is inherent in the character of Christ.
Prayer: Lord our God, we thank you that whenever we are weak, whenever we cannot even express our pain through words, you listen to our groaning. You uphold us and give us a future. Lord our God, especially in this time of isolation, help us care for all those excluded and wounded by our families, by our neighborhoods, by our churches, and by our culture. Lord, our God, help us value the true power, the power of loving the weak things of this world. Through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who came in and conquered through his weakness, Amen.
Cristian Mihut, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Bethel University.