Despair and wisdom
A reflection from Uniting Church President Rev Sharon Hollis
November 15, 2023
By Rev Sharon Hollis, Uniting Church in Australia President
Several weeks ago the congregation I was attending sang a hymn by Brian Wren that spoke of some of the attributes of God including the line, ‘wiser than despair’.
Since that Sunday I’ve been reflecting on what it means to say God is wiser than despair and what it might it mean for me to seek the wisdom of God lest I fall into despair.
“God’s wisdom is made known to us in the cross of Christ, in the willingness of Jesus to suffer death to bear all that breaks the world..."
Despair is easy at the moment. Fire ravishes our country. Climate change is impacting low lying lands across the globe. Droughts are becoming more severe in many places leading to famine. War rages both in places noticed by the news and in places unnoticed except by those who live through it. Sudan, Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Ukraine and Palestine and Israel.
Daily we watch hospitals bombed, hostages held, babies dying for lack of basic care and homes crumbling.
Across the globe, conflict is causing division and preventing us from seeing the humanity in each other.
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he speaks of God’s wisdom being foolish to the wisdom of the world. God’s wisdom is made known to us in the cross of Christ, in the willingness of Jesus to suffer death to bear all that breaks the world, to carry the injustice of the world, to overcome all that separates us from God and each other.
God’s wisdom is the wisdom of suffering solidarity, joining the life of Christ with all the victims of war, with broken humanity, with the scarred earth.
God’s wisdom is a love that endures alongside all who need hope, healing, peace and justice.
God’s wisdom is wiser than despair, because it is not overcome by despair. It works in the world, not by turning from places of despair, but rather by suffering for and with those most in need, inviting us to pray, hope and work for a world renewed.
In this time of deep despair, may you know God’s strange wisdom which is renewing the world in love.
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