Sunday, May 9, 2010

waiting for Godot (original version)

The word for today: Lamentations 4
Mark this- 4:17

Moreover, our eyes failed, looking in vain for help;
from our towers we watched for a nation that could not save us.

Waiting for Godot (pronounced GO doe) is a well know play by Samuel Beckett from the middle of last century. The plot of the play centers around the interaction of two main characters as they wait and wait and wait for some one named Godot to show up. He never does. In the mean time, they argue, sing, play games, rest, eat and talk about all sorts of topics; anything to pass the time. This goes on for two days, with each day ending with a messenger boy, supposedly representing Godot, informing the gentlemen with this famous line:
"Mr. Godot told me to tell you he won't come this evening, but surely tomorrow."

At the end of the second day, the exasperated men finally give up their vigil and leave. Some story, what does it all mean?
The author's background gives us some insight to understand and interpret what he was getting at. Beckett, along with many other famous writers of his time, was an atheist. And he writes a very simple play with some very complex ideas. All day long, two men wait for someone that they have never seen. He doesn't show. At the end of each day, they are told by a less than reliable source that he is certainly going to arrive, but he doesn't. Godot, to the atheist, represents God. God has let them down, He has not shown Himself as they want, and so they conclude that He has failed them and they move on with their lives.

This charge against God, of Him not showing up, has been leveled at Christianity for a long time now. It is perfectly natural, as most people have felt disappointed by God for one reason or another. Even more, those feelings of hurt and disillusionment are biblical. Look at the Psalms, and you will find plenty of honest and painful cries from people who feel betrayed by God. Our Lord Himself cried out "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Mk. 15:34)"

I am sure that you have felt let down by God at some time in your life. Nothing new there. But if you turn away from God, where else can you turn to? Other people!?! Face Book!?! Government Bailouts!?! Oprah!?! Yourself!?! Its easy to want to bail on God when your are down, but all options after Him are no options at all. This is the hard lesson that Judah is forced to learn.

In today's passage, Jeremiah is describing the horrors in Jerusalem, as it is besieged and destroyed by the Babylonians. (Think of how bad it must have been for people to have preferred enduring the fire and brimstone of Sodom's judgment to this. see v. 6) But perhaps the biggest disappointment in this chapter is found in the 17th verse, as the people of Jerusalem come to the awful realization that Egypt would not save them. They had finally come to their Godot moment and realized that "surely Egypt would NOT come tomorrow."

Egypt?!? Why would any Jew expect or want help from their former captors? What gives?
Well, Egypt was always a major player in the Middle-East, and as other empires came and went (i.e. Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians etc.), it was easier for God's people to place their hope in the military might of Egypt than rely on the Living God. In Hezekiah's time, the prophet Isaiah rebuked Judah for trusting in Egypt to fend off the Assyrians (Isaiah 30).

Jeremiah does the same thing, warning Judah that they "will be disappointed by Egypt"(2:36).
This whole book he has been warning the people not to put their trust in Egypt, and after Jerusalem is destroyed, not to go there for refuge. Why? Because Egypt is a sinking ship.

Waiting for Godot is a picture of life, because life if often defined by disappointment. Everyone on the world is waiting for something, putting their expectations on something, trusting in something. You can give up on God, but you are abandoning the only thing stable in a sea of madness. Following, and sometimes, waiting upon Jesus is hard, but like Simon Peter, we echo "Lord, to whom shall we go?" (John 6:68)

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