Psalm 68 is beautiful today: Let God rise up, let the righteous be joyful, let them exult before God, let them be jubilant with joy, God is in a holy habitation, God is our salvation, and blessed be the Lord who daily bears us up. So much goodness! We are to exult and be jubilant. The Creator daily is with us, bearing us up as we need. God is rising up, even before we call out.
The Gospel reading from Luke is a favourite one of mine–I fell in love with it in a book, Women of the Word, by Mary Lou Sleevi who used the image of the bent-over women as a question mark that became an exclamation point after 18 years of infirmity. How many times when we encounter Jesus do we have a moment of being jubilant with joy, of shrugging off everything that weighs us down and holds us back because we are fearful of what is being asked of us? This woman at hearing the words of Christ that she was set free, not only believed him but began to praise God while straightening up. The image of the question mark–doubt, fear, rage, bitterness, anxiety–becoming an exclamation point–joy, freedom, trust, faith, confidence–is a spectacular reminder that we have a choice when we come to Jesus as how to respond. This woman who suffered for almost two decades did not cling to the question marks of life. With God, she was already rising to the occasion, jumping up to the task of exclaiming the praises of the Great Physician. She is a model for us.
We all have choices when we face life with tough questions, whatever they are. Some of us face life and death issues; others encounter anguish that lasts a lifetime; most have difficult decisions that limit our rejoicing. This woman must have had great trust and a positive attitude because of her immediate response. No negativity came from her, though those around her were furious what with occurred, challenging Jesus’ compassion of healing her on the Sabbath. These people might not have become exclamation points, but remained question marks. How we respond is sometimes the biggest struggle of all, especially if our safe zone is skepticism and negativity. The challenge of this Gospel is for the readers to decide if they want to be question marks or exclamation points in life. Which do you choose?
What is your go-to stance in life in adversity–a question mark or an exclamation point?
How often do you feel jubilant with joy?
Rising One, you bid us to jump up, too, jubilant with joy, to praise God at what will happen. May we be open to choosing new ways to live our lives. Amen.