“My sheep hear my voice…They shall never perish… No one can take them out of my hand. “There is a great deal to unpack in today’s gospel but I would like to focus on these few words at the end. What does it mean to be in God’s hands?
A very good woman, hurting from a great loss in her life, once said to me, “Why is this happening to me? I’ve tried to live a good life.” And she had. So maybe it’s good to begin with what does being in God’s hands not mean.
It does not mean that we will be protected from the losses that come with living: Family members and friends die. Work we love comes to an end. Our bodies becomes less and less reliable.
But I suggest that there is a difference between safety and security. A seatbelt is a safety feature; it is an attempt to protect us from harm. Covid vaccinations and face masks are safety features designed to protect us from a serious illness. And all those safety features are good things. But I don’t think that is what being in God’s hands is about.
It is security that God’s hands provide for us…the security of knowing that no matter what happens to us we are not alone…that God is with us, holding us closely, and will never let go.
Julian of Norwich is quoted as writing: He [Jesus] did not say, ‘You will never have a rough passage, you will never be over-strained, you will never feel uncomfortable,’ but he did say, ‘You will never be overcome.”
This of course is the long view. In the short run, things can be pretty rocky. And we can help each other with that. We can, and should lend a listening ear, the comforting embrace. We can help each other over those rough passages that inevitably come. We can be part of a safety net for each other.
But for real security, nothing beats knowing that we are in God’s hands,
…that nothing can take us out of God’s hands,
…and that in the end, “All shall be well, all shall be well, all manner of things shall be well”
Pat Schnee, OPA