Now, before you react, hear me out.
Two nights ago I watched an episode of "Rev.", the British comedy about an Anglican priest in an urban London parish. In this particular episode, the rector is having a crisis of faith. I won't tell you how the episode goes, but I will say that it brought to mind some of the really difficult things a priest has to deal with on a pretty regular basis. Being ordained is not simply about preparing sermons, organizing youth lock-ins, and baptizing cute little gurgling babies. We also have the awesome privilege of being present with people at some really intense times, like when a parishioner is put on hospice, when a family loses their house in a fire, and when a disaster (natural or otherwise) pays the town a visit. What do you say when these things happen?
I'm not implying that I haven't had excellent training in seminary or CPE or personal experiences of pain that I can draw from to help. What I'm saying is that I don't have what it takes to face these situations on my own. I constantly act as if I'm on my own, forgetting that God is present as well.
In the Gospel reading for today Jesus said these words before sending his disciples out into the world:
"When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you" (Matthew 10:19-20).
Sometimes it can feel like we have been sent out as "sheep in the midst of wolves" (Matthew 10:16). But even in the most difficult of times, we can take comfort in knowing that we are never truly on our own, for God is with us.