Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snowed In

Tonight I was wandering through the online sections of my local paper, the Boston Globe, and stumbled upon a story: another snowstorm is going to hit our area in a few days. My spouse and I groaned. Another one? It all started with the Blizzard of 2010, a major weather event that buried the East Coast in two feet of snow.  Another one came on its heels and dumped another couple of feet. Then another snowstorm came last week. Work was not canceled. There is no more room in the streets for the snow, and cars are completely buried. Bostonians are fed up with the snow, and a fourth storm is on the way. This one is supposed to slam the Midwest with snow and ice. Some of you, if you live in Ashland, might find also yourselves snowed in. All this snow is getting tiresome. I'm starting to feel walled in by snow.

The revolution in Egypt this past week has taught me about the grinding poverty in Egypt, and helped me to see why the rebellion is happening. The people there are angry because the government has failed them so profoundly. They do not have basic services that Americans take for granted, like public education, help to buy food and yes, even semi-reliable public transportation. Egyptians are also angry because their government is corrupt and dishonest. Mubarak claims it is a democracy- but he has been "re-elected" for more than 30 years! Egypt is actually a corrupt dictatorship.

Even though I don't know what it's truly like to live in Egypt, I'm feeling fed-up like the Egyptians. For them, there's no end in sight. Young people don't have the education they need, they have no job prospects in sight, and the exorbitant costs of living compared to actual income make them feel trapped. They despair of ever climbing out of poverty. When you're poor, the devastating blows just keep coming.

The cries of my weather-wearied psyche and the angry cries of Egyptian protests remind me of a refrain found in Scripture: "how long, O Lord?" The plight of the Egyptians sounds a lot like the prophet Habakkuk's use of this refrain in Habakkuk 1:2-4:

Lord, how long shall I cry for help,
   and you will not listen?
Or cry to you ‘Violence!’
   and you will not save?
Why do you make me see wrongdoing
   and look at trouble?
Destruction and violence are before me;
   strife and contention arise.
So the law becomes slack
   and justice never prevails.
The wicked surround the righteous—
   therefore judgment comes forth perverted.

Habakkuk probably prophesied in 7th century Israel (BCE), which was before the Babylonians conquered Israel in 586 BCE. When he cried out to God, the worst was yet to come! He begged for deliverance even before his people were chained and deported.

Surely the Egyptians are fed up with facing the economic violence done to themselves and their families by the corrupt government. Only they've been feeling this way for 36 years! They have realized that "the law becomes slack... therefore judgment comes forth perverted."And enough was enough a long time ago. Yet their journey to freedom and a truly democratic state will be a long one. For those who are now crying out for deliverance, the wait will be a long one.

By comparison, my complaining about the weather seems silly. It's the same feeling though. January is only now ending, and the relative hardships I face in this bitter cold and walls of snow will not go away anytime soon. I have to sit here for awhile.

The comfort in this is that even when everything is totally out of my control, I can cry out to God. My circumstance might not change. But how I feel about it might change, because I know I've got a God who cares about what I'm going through. Even though there are Coptic Christians in Egypt suffering more than I, God cares about what I'm facing too. God listens to both of us, Christians half a world apart, when we pray. So here I sit, but I'm not sitting alone.

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