[Has God abandoned us?]

Dear Donagh,

When I see all the suffering and the loneliness around me, especially all the old people isolated by the covid virus who can't see their family, I keep wondering has God abandoned us.  Molly

Dear Molly,

Many years ago my cousin was so seriously ill—and for so long—that no one expected her to live.  Her weight had dropped to an alarming thirty kilos, and she began to resemble a corpse.  But every day her boyfriend came and sat by her hospital bed for hours.  She lived, regaining her health very slowly.  She left the hospital, and was convalescent for almost a year.  Every day he came to visit and sit with her.  A few years later they were married.  Fifty years later she died, aged seventy-five.  He had a headstone erected at her grave, and a limestone seat beside it.  Every day, until he died aged ninety-two, he came and sat by her grave. 
‘I Am Who Am,’ was the mysterious answer Moses received when he asked God's name.  In Hebrew there are no verb tenses such as exist in other languages, so the expression could have a present or a future meaning.  I have seen it translated in a few languages as ‘I will be who I will be.’  And of course ‘be’ does not mean ‘to be’ in the abstract, but ‘to be for you’.  God’s name, then, is: ‘I am the One who will be for you always.’  This is echoed in the final verse of Matthew’s gospel: ‘[Jesus said] I am with you always, even to the end of the world.’ 
God has not abandoned us.  Jesus is still Emmanuel, which means ‘God with us’.  We live in the presence of God who will never desert us.  Love never goes away.  It continues through the long years, through joy and sorrow, through sickness, old age, and death – and beyond.  Don’t lose heart. 


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