If you live long enough, chances are many of the things you hold dear will eventually crumble before your eyes. And there can be a profound blessing in that rubble.
I thought about that truth, as I listened to today’s first reading from the prophet Haggai. He says of the great temple in Jerusalem:
Who is left among you
that saw this house in its former glory?
And how do you see it now?
Does it not seem like nothing in your eyes?
Indeed, the magnificent temple—the center of his community’s faith life—had been destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. But oddly, Haggai manages to see hope amidst the ruins:
Take courage, all you people of the land…
For I am with you, says the LORD of hosts.
This is the pact that I made with you when you came out of Egypt,
And my spirit continues in your midst; do not fear!
We need reminders like that from prophets like Haggai, I think. We need to be reminded that the things we consider essential in life…the things we consider glorious…might eventually prove less stable than once we believed them to be.
A marriage might totter and fall.
A loved-one might become mentally ill.
A career might get torpedoed, through no obvious fault of my own.
The question is, can we still find something worthy in the rubble? Can we still encounter the spirit of the Lord, even there?
We don’t wish for rubble, certainly. Still, like Haggai, we might find a curious blessing in the brokenness of our lives.
The rubble may be what convinces us, finally, that presence matters more than performance to the Lord.
The promise Haggai shares with us is this: We are always being invited to deepen our relationship with the Holy One – to trust in God’s presence, even (and perhaps especially) amidst the ruin we encounter along the way.