I said a long goodbye to my Grandma this weekend, and I can’t help but think that it’s times like these that reveal what we truly believe in.
There isn’t another angel in heaven, and Grandma won’t live on in our hearts. These sentiments, while a valiant attempt to deal with our pain, reflect a belief in nothing at all. If we claim to follow the Christ but our best attempts at comforting the bereaved originate in the script of the latest Pixar movie, there’s a big problem. If that’s all the hope we have to give, we’d best keep our tithe out of the offering plate and invest in Hallmark stocks.
We believe in Jesus, and the resurrection of the dead.
Granted, in today’s society this presents some problems. For example, death is a prerequisite, and that’s just unacceptable. We want all of the “he who believes in me will never die” and none of the “whoever loses his life will find it.” The Bible tells the story of three noble gents who got tossed into a Babylonian furnace because of their convictions. We give lip-service admiration to faith like that, but prefer to be saved from the flames instead of being protected and preserved in the midst of them.
I’m no better. My desire is to be able to write from a place of understanding and strength. Instead, today I come to this ministry world-weary and misunderstood. I’m tired. I want all of the “my power is perfected” but have had quite enough of the “in weakness“, thank-you-very-much.
But that’s where we’re at sometimes, isn’t it?
The good news is that God is here too, and maybe that’s enough.
Crosses, flames, graves, divorce court, doctors’ offices, and even (gasp) the back doors of abortion clinics: the bland and pasty god that we often make in our own image doesn’t belong in places like these. He’d rather stay clean and sanitary up in his stained-glass window.
But to the One True God, the Ancient of Days, these places of failure and death are the cradles of grace. He spoke once through the prophet Isaiah, who wrote,
“For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.””
Isaiah 57:15 ESV
Hope is born here, when we come to the end of ourselves in the shadow of the crucified Messiah.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 5:3 ESV