“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:13-15).
As I scrolled through Facebook this morning, a video popped up of the Carpenter’s singing “Rainy Days and Mondays.” It is a fitting reminder to me today that not all days are sunshine and roses – some of them are dark and dreary days, seemingly bereft of any beauty at all.
I spent the early morning thinking and praying about all of the people in the path of Hurricane Ida, many now reeling from the devastation it wrought. As the sun rose this morning, it brought only images of chaos and mayhem. And I grieve for them all, trusting God’s providence even in the midst of this.
I then moved on to consider the many dear brothers and sisters in Christ whose very lives are at stake because of their testimony of Jesus. I am certainly not surprised by the hatred leveled at the precious bride of Christ around the world. Jesus was emphatic with his disciples as he prepared them for their apostolic ministry. “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19). This would prompt the apostle John to write many years later in his first letter: “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you” (1 John 3:13). And I sob for these dear ones, and at the same time confess my own failings in my too often faithless witness.
Then word came to me that a very dear friend lost her son to covid. I know that some of you know the depths of the pain that comes in losing a child. That is a place that know one wants to go, and yet, it is all too often a reality of this fallen world. And I wept for my friend, her daughter-in-law and grandchildren, and the rest of the family.
And yet, I do not lose hope. I know and experience the new mercies that flow out of the steadfast love of the Lord. Even in the mundane, there are things that the Lord brings to cheer us on our way. I can anticipate a chat later with my oldest granddaughter who celebrates her fifth birthday today. I rejoice in the providential care of our God in the lives of so many in our congregation, friends and family.
Then there is the profound aspects of this life we have in Christ, a life “hid with Christ on high.” Even as the apostle John told his readers to not be surprised that the world hates them, he reminds them of the gospel hope that we have because of Christ. “We know that we have passed out of death into life…” (1 John 3:14).
Because of this great love with which Christ has loved me, I can grieve, sob and weep with a hope that looks beyond the sorrow and sadness of the moment on into a glorious, endless day for all whom Christ died. So let us look to Jesus today (and everyday). “To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).