A casualty of power

“Does a woman forget her baby at her breast, or fail to cherish the child of her womb?” (Is. 49) These words went through my mind when I read Beatrice’s rebuke to her long lost brother as he tucked into his first meal at home in six years. “‘So you’re not going to pray?’ He paused for a second and then lifting his eyes to meet hers, he said sadly, ‘Where was He all those years I spent in prison?’”

The quote comes from A Casualty of Power by Mukuka Chipanta, a Zambian author[1]. It is a fast moving story of an ordinary student from a struggling home making it to college and then being swept up unknowingly into a drugs deal which land him in prison and torture with his mother literally worrying herself to death. He is eventually released and finds a job in a copper mine only to be involved again in a protest which leads to violence and the last page has him uncertainly facing the gallows.

It is a vivid description of a tragedy with all the authenticity of life in Zambia today where power can elbow justice aside. Hamoonga Moya is a promising student minding his own business who explores his surroundings for a moment only to be crushed without mercy. Where indeed was God in his years of agony? And where is God now in the lives of countless people in Zambia and elsewhere caught up in a political and economic system that marginalises them. In many countries people can boot out a government that does nothing for them, but that is not easy here

Where is God? Has he forgotten his people? We have to say firmly, ‘No!’ The same question was asked when 6 million Jews were murdered in the camps during World War II. The answer – easy to give, hard to take – is, “I am there with you in your pain.” God does not solve our issues. We do that. Having given us freedom he cannot interfere – anymore that the parent of teenage children can ‘interfere,’ But he walks with us when we set out and try to do something. “I am with you”, but we have to start the work. “I will help you,” but we have to struggle to find the way. He “entrusts us with the mysteries” (1 Cor.4).

Then the Lord says, “Do not worry about tomorrow.” That sounds crazy advice. Everyone worries about the future. We have to plan. I do not think Jesus is against planning but he is talking about an attitude of self-reliance that is the opposite of a trustful reaching out to others, to the world and so to God.

26 February 2017                    Sunday 8 A

Isaiah 49:14-15                       1 Corinthians 4:1-5                 Matthew 6:24-34

[1] The book was published by Weaver Press, Harare, 2016. The novel gives a vivid description of life in Zambia today, just as Dickens’ novels both told a good tale and described Victorian London with all it squalor and cruelty.

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