The lectionary readings for today offer too much to grapple with in one sitting… or maybe two… or three… or four… What a relief, after the disaster that was yesterday!
There are, however, some common themes.
Sarah… who laughs somewhat inappropriately… then turns a corner and laughs in the way we all love… in the way we all hope to find joy and join in, for her pain subsides with the culmination (or maybe just the beginning) of covenant:
Genesis 21:6, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me” (NIV).
The twelve... sent out into a world where not enough people are sent, into places where they are promised that they will be unwelcome and persecuted… then turn a corner… because there are enough places that offer peace, and there are not so many that don’t that the disciples can move quickly enough to cover them all… there will be communities that want to join in the healing… go there:
Matthew 10:9, “Freely you have received; freely give” (NIV).
The Romans… and subsequently, we… encouraged to endure suffering, for it does not last forever:
Romans 5:3-5 “…because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (NIV).
Almost nobody loves pain when they are in the midst of it (although I have met a few). Let’s be real, friends. Almost nobody loves the pain, itself, even when it has passed. This isn’t really about growing comfortable with devastation, anguish, or oppression, and… in fact… it might be just the opposite. It seems to me that these words all point to solutions to such harm. We are the solution, as we laugh… as we give… as we hope.
Because everybody has days that suck… us… dry. Or we could even leave that as, everybody has days that suck. But they don’t last forever, even if we think they will.
If you’re currently deeply rooted in one of those miserable places, I hope you can allow yourself just a moment to breath in… and breathe out… and dare to believe it won’t always be this way. But I know that’s easier written than done. So this post isn’t really for you.
However, if you’re in one of those sweet spots (and, unfortunately, they pass too, but take it all in while you can)… one of those places where you have turned a corner, crossed a bridge (maybe burned it), and feel the warmth of the sun on your face and the gentle push of the wind at your back… perhaps you could turn around just long enough to reach out your hand to someone who isn’t there, today.
Share your story—not just the good parts that compound the issue of comparing “our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel” (Steve Furtick)—but the whole raw, heartbreaking thing. Because from suffering, hope does rise…