Have you ever had a day when you felt like everyone around you is being beaten down by life? Monday was one of those days for me.
First, I learned that a friend-of-a-friend of mine had passed away unexpectedly over the weekend. I hadn’t seen him since before lockdown last year and had been thinking of him just a few days ago. We didn’t know each other well, but in all of our interactions he had always seemed to embody joy and kindness. The cause of death is not yet known, but he is absolutely gone too soon.
Later that day I found myself listening to a story of deep familial wounding and possible abuse. There are no quick fixes. There is no map to help navigate to healing and restoration in this specific case and the reality is that this person I love may have to carry this unresolved burden for the rest of their life.
To cap it all off, another friend of mine shared that all of his tools, which are crucial to his trade, were stolen from their storage unit just a day after completing their move across the country. The storage facility has clients waive liability upon signing their contract, so my friend has no means of being reimbursed for the stolen items unless the thief is caught and still has all of the tools.
Monday was a day of desolation, death, and despair for me. Lord, have mercy.
I would have loved nothing more than to have been able to fix these situations for my friends. I wish I could bring this man back to his family. I wish I had the words that would heal this past wounding and reconcile a family. I wish I could come up with a way for my friend to get all of his tools back. God is reconciling all of creation to himself and one day everything will be as it should be, but, right now, I am feeling acutely aware that not all is right in the world.
Have you ever had a day like this? What does faithfulness look like in the midst of moments or seasons of great pain and loss? Can our faith sustain us in these moments?
As I have reflected on these questions over the past few days, the good news Deb proclaimed to us on Sunday has been ringing in my ears. The Father’s love provides us not only with an example but with the power to make a living of loving. We see a picture of this love in action in the Incarnation. God, in Jesus, became present to us in flesh and blood. He walked in the dirt and was present to the desolation, death, and despair we see all around us at times. And now, he has called and equipped his church, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to be his body in the world.
To faithfully answer the call to be the people of God, we must identify what it is that we are called to. We aren’t called to fix it on our own or fake that we are unscathed by the darkness all around us. We are called and empowered to be faithfully present to pain – ours and our neighbors’. As Deb proclaimed this week, we are called to love! Resurrecting the dead and healing the brokenhearted is God’s work, not ours, but we are invited to participate in this work by loving the people in our lives and being present to them in moments of great joy, great sadness, and everything in between. Love is enough.
Friends, as you go through this week, may the love of God, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit sustain you in being faithfully present to yourself, your neighbors, and to reality all around you.
Peace, Fr. Spencer