Then How Shall We Live (pt 2)

21 Aug

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If our first challenge in the journey of moving from grief to hope is the embracing and mourning of loss, then the second is this: connecting my story, our story, with the greater narrative of God.

It says in the ancient texts,

 Jesus, the Messiah, is the same yesterday and today and forever.

The same yesterday:

I often marvel at the great heroes of old, biblical and historical.  Abraham’s great faith to sacrifice his son, Joshua’s strength and courage as He filled Moses shoes in taking the promised land, C.S. Lewis resilience in the grief and anguish of his wife’s early death, etc… Not one has the absence of suffering. But they all responded the same.  They saw suffering as an invitation. They took their pain from a place of isolation and chose to view it in communion with all of humanity. They became participants of something much greater than themselves, something much larger and universal. They connected their story to God’s story. 

The same today:

Unforeseen events that alter our trajectory are often sobering. Abraham, Joshua, C.S. Lewis were not immuned to it. And neither are we. These moments tend to unveil our expectations, often ignorant I must confess, of signing up for an “elective course.” Following God 101. I’m afraid this is not the case. This is our required course, this our path to better follow our King. This is our invitation. And we accept.  We can guarantee you this: our experience will (and already has) taken Holly and I into deeper places of intimacy and faith then we have known before. We undergo great faith challenges, once again not alone, but in the context of community. A place where we share not only our cups of joy, but our cups of sorrow.

The same forever:

If you don’t care about any of my other blabbering’s care about this one: human suffering and God’s suffering are connected. We can choose to hide and face our pain alone, or we can live them together. As we live the pain of our losses  we open ourselves to a wider world of suffering.  A world where darkness surrenders to light. A world of compassion. After all, the Latin meaning of the word compassion is to “co-suffer” or to suffer together with. This breaks through and beyond simple empathy. We become co-laborers when compassion awakes in us. It is like the rising of the morning sun, actively soothing one another with its rays of healing light. When we see our suffering with the story of God we can live as reconcilers of a new Kingdom. We become peacemakers. We become good news.

Because….

God is in the business of leadership development. He has Shepherded heroes of old, he shepherds us now, and he will shepherd the people of his pasture long after we are gone. He closes the gap between who we are and who he wants us to become. And hear’s the reality: suffering and pain is one of His main vehicles for refining us into the people of God. I remember one of my college professor’s saying, “God is more concerned with our character than our comfort.”

And we are learning to say, Amen.

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