Wednesday, March 30, 2016

When You Feel the Sting

Easter week has passed.  It is the time, for the church, when we rejoice in the resurrection.  When we once again remember the sacrifice made for us and the joy that now awaits because of it.  We typically hear a lot during this week about death's defeat and the overcoming of the grave.  We sing, we hope, we lift our eyes to heaven, and...sometimes, we hurt in the middle of it all.  And we wonder what comes next.

'O death, where is your sting?'  The truth of the matter is that on this side of heaven, death does sting. Sometimes it stings until it knocks you down.  Where we stand now, on the dim side of the mirror, is painful and beautiful all at once.  There are times when just the beautiful would be quite sufficient. But the pain seeps through and meets us like an unwelcome visitor. It is part of our path, part of the making of who we are meant to be.  And so we face it, but we feel it, too. That's the part that is sometimes hard for us to talk about--feeling the sting.  It's so much easier to post the cleverly illustrated Bible verse or say, "I'm fine, and you?" as we walk away and let tears fall in our quiet moments.  For some reason, it does not usually feel acceptable to say we aren't ok.  That gets messy. People don't enjoy it. So we hide.  I'm not sure why we are afraid of the reality of walking out our faith.  If we're honest, now and then most of us are tired and a little unsure of things.  When Jesus appeared after He had risen, He spoke peace to His disciples.  "Peace to you," He said.  If He knew they needed His peace, I feel certain He knew that we would, too.  The world may look different at the point in time where we find ourselves, but our hearts still need His peace.

'O hell, where is your victory?' Some days we look around us at the weary world and are hard-pressed to see a great deal of victory.  Instead, we see a lot of darkness and fighting and hard things and just plain scary stuff.  The day-to-day presents its own set of  issues.  We struggle in our search for what is true and where we fit within it.  And so we have to go back to the beginning of remembering.  We have to choose to step into the light.

'O Church, come stand in the light.'  This begins the work.  Often we forget that there is a working of the gospel, but we do have a task to carry out.  When we see injustice, we  have to continue to stand in the light.  When those we love crack and break and our own hearts are split wide open, we sometimes want to creep back into the shadows.  But we can't.  If we truly believe that 'the glory of God has defeated the night,' then when we find ourselves in the pitch black of midnight we have to decide to hold on until morning.  It always arrives.  Sometimes the hours just drag on more slowly than others, but the result is the same.  Daylight breaks; morning comes; mercies are new.

So if you find yourself feeling a bit tattered and worse-for-wear on your journey, know you are not alone.  We are supposed to be the Church--collectively walking together in spite of ourselves.  We are meant to keep each other in the light--to point each other back to the One who has overcome.  So that in the end, we can remember how to rejoice.

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