The last couple of months have been exceptionally difficult for us as a congregation. I don’t think there hasn’t been a person that hasn’t been impacted by sorrow in some capacity. Some of us have faced more than one, compounding the sorrow that resides in our hearts. It is easy during these times to not see the light at the end of the tunnel. When things get hard we tend to focus on the hardships. We end up having that “singleness of heart” that Paul often told us to have in our service. The problem is that the singleness of heart is often focused upon the hardship. When we do this all we can see is that our lives are hard. I know that you might be sitting there reading this thinking, I don’t do that. I don’t only think of the dark times. But the reality is, seeing the hardships is almost easier for us to do than seeing the good times. PTSD is a great proof of that. Those traumatic events change the very psyche of an individual. The reality is, you never hear of a person having PWED (Post Wonderful Event Disorder). Believe me, I am not trying to make light of the condition. In fact, it is just the opposite. Tragedy, hardships, suffering, etc are genuinely hard to get over. This is why saying things like, “God has a plan” or “It will all work out for the best,” while said with love can actually be more damaging. When having to bury a loved one. When having to bury one lost in sin how does it work out for that person’s good? (At least that is what they are usually feeling in the moment). I believe we need to be careful about how we handle these difficult times. It can make or break our faith. When James told us to consider it all joy when you encounter various trials he wasn’t tell us, put on a happy face when the going gets tough. No one is telling you to do that. In fact, our Savior wept when he met with Mary and Martha after the death of Lazarus. He wept even though he knew that he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. So, what am I saying? We need to learn to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I know it is hard to see, but it is there, and we need to learn to keep our eyes upon it. Consider Jesus for a moment. “…looking to Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right of the throne of God (Heb 12:2).” It was not the cross he looked forward to. It was not the suffering he looked forward to. It was not the bearing of the sins he look forward to. (In fact those are the very things that I think moved him to cry out, “Let this cup pass from me.”) But, Jesus didn’t have “singleness of heart” as he looked upon his suffering. No, for Jesus it was just the opposite, his eyes were set at the Light at the end of the tunnel. Consider Paul for just a moment. “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-- that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead (Phil. 3:8-11).” Paul suffered a lot for the cause of Christ. He was beaten, shipwrecked, and even stoned. And yet, he didn’t lose hope. He didn’t give up. He pressed on with the hope that one day he would indeed reach that light at the end of the tunnel. My friends, as we mourn the loss of our loved ones let us be mindful that there is a God who can wipe away every tear from our eyes. Let us be mindful that there is a place where suffering, sorrow, and death are nowhere to be found. There is a place where true joy and happiness can be found. To get there, we will have to travel through this world of woe. To get there we are going to have to endure the worst that this world has to offer. To get there, we have to have singleness of heart. Instead of focusing upon the hardships we face, we need to zero in on the light at the end of that tunnel. Don’t ever forget that when you get to Heaven that you will be able to look back and say beyond a shout of a doubt that it was absolutely worth it.
Grinnell church of Christ
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