Sirach 2: 1-6
My son, when you come to serve the LORD, prepare yourself for trials. Be sincere of heart and steadfast, undisturbed in time of adversity. Cling to him, forsake him not; thus will your future be great. Accept whatever befalls you, in crushing misfortune be patient; For in fire gold is tested, and worthy men in the crucible of humiliation. Trust God and he will help you; make straight your ways and hope in him.
Greetings to all! As I was making my two and a half hour commute to work yesterday morning my heart was just breaking, the pain was so intense that I could physically feel it. Instead of running from it, turning up the radio, thinking “happy” thoughts, or making phone calls, I just sat in it and I began to simply invite God into that hurt, to join me in that place of suffering. I know that He is always “with us,” but He is still a very respectful God who will not force Himself on us but will quietly wait for our invitation.
The question that Ali and I get asked the most is, “How are you doing?” Although we know it is being asked out of genuine concern, we also know that a lot of times, the majority of people could not handle our answer. Let me give you an example. Now, remember this is all figurative language here for all you animal lovers out there. If someone catches me in the middle of a heart wrenching moment and asks the question, “How are you doing?” And I truly answered them, my answer would sound something like this, “I want to stomp on kittens, punt bunnies across the yard, I want to throw cute puppies are far as I can, I want to unleash the fury that is in side of me by punch something until my arms and my body cannot physically move anymore.” Now, is that the answer that “most” people want to hear, No. What most people want to hear is that we are doing “good, we are doing good.” Unfortunately at the moment and in the days and weeks to come, we will not always be doing, “good.” Does that mean that we are falling apart all day long, No. Does it mean that we find no joy in our life, no. What that means is that we just feel like we got the wind knocked out of us and could cry at ANY given moment sometimes because we are in pain right now.
In the society that we live in today, especially the one that I grew up in, we want to avoid pain at ANY COST! Just watch TV for an hour and see how many different medication advertisements there are on TV today. Our world has become afraid of pain, so instead of dealing with it we so often “self-medicate,” by alcohol, food, shopping, money, celebrity gossip, or whatever our poison might be, so that we can feel better about ourselves and our life or the other option is that we just simply pretend that it is not there and go about our daily lives like “nothing is wrong.” We are afraid in general of looking at the reality that we find ourselves in, instead of embracing it, allowing God to be present to us, walk us through it, and heal our broken hearts. In “crushing misfortune” we want to do ANYTHING but “be patient” and “Trust in God.” Unfortunately the reality of it is there is truly no other way around it, no other way that will last, no other way that will truly satisfy us, no other way that will give us REAL solace, comfort, and healing.
As I began my long trek home yesterday afternoon from work I turned my radio off and just prayed, prayed for my wife, prayed for my kids, prayed for myself and I just tried to be patient in the midst of the pain of Cate’s loss. The scripture that came to my heart was of Holy Saturday, the day after Good Friday. Let me set the scene for you and it is pretty bleak one at that. The apostles, disciples, and Mary are locked in the upper room. Mary is mourning the loss of her son, the apostles and disciples are mourning the loss of their Messiah, their friend and their lives. Think about this for a minute. These followers of Christ had given up EVERYTHING, family friends, and careers to follow, this “Jesus,” and now He is dead. They had to be feeling like they had just lost everything, not to mention their reputations, because now they just look like a bunch of idiots. Can you imagine what that Saturday must have felt like? Gut Wrenchingly horrible!
You see, we know something that the Disciples of Christ did not know on that painful Holy Saturday, we know what happened the next day, Easter Sunday, Jesus was resurrected from the dead and after His resurrection He spent forty days with them. In Acts 1:4 the scriptures say, “While meeting with them, he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for "the promise of the Father.” To wait, did you hear that, He told them to WAIT on “The Promise of the Father.” That Promise of the Father that Jesus told them about was the Holy Spirit, the one who would empower them to leave the locked upper room and go out into the world and proclaim the Good News of Christ. Can you imagine what that waiting must have been like? When they saw Jesus they must have thought, Jesus is BACK! Whoopie Hooray, we are not IDOITS! And then He tells them to wait. They must have thought, Hold on, what did you just say? You want us to what? You want us to WAIT? Are you kidding, do you know what we have been through? Our people have been waiting for thousands of years for the Messiah, you are here now and you want us to Wait? Yes, WAIT. I believe it was worth the wait, their waiting is what enabled Christianity to be brought to the ends of the earth and be brought to you and to me.
I was talking with my mother-in-law the other day, who as I mention before, has had to face her own “Holy Saturday” when their son Phil died. I was telling her that Ali and I are not running from this pain, we not acting like it doesn’t exist, that right now, we are just experiencing it, in all of its fury, knowing that it will pass. I told her that either we deal with it now or we deal with it later, but it must be dealt with. She said something that I thought was very profound, every once in a while mother-in-laws can come out with some good stuff, wink wink. She said that right now, the pain is in your face, you know what it is and you can clearly identify it. If you deal with it now, it is a lot better than if you wait for years and the pain and anger gets intertwined into other things in your life and it becomes much more disguised as other things and is a lot harder to identify and deal with.
So, as all of us do at different times in all of our lives, Ali and I and our kids find ourselves experiencing our “Holy Saturday” and that is just what we are going to do, experience it. But, we will wait, like the Disciples of Christ, waited in Jerusalem for, “the promise of the Father” we too will wait in our Jerusalem. May all of us, not be afraid of the “crushing misfortune” that this world can bring to all us, but embrace it and allow it to refine us. We love you all, wait with us in Jerusalem.
Much Love, The Cantrells
I will leave you with a quote from the movie the Count of Monte Cristo that I think sums this up very well:
“Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in Rome. Do your worst, for I will do mine! Then the fates will know you as we know you: as Albert Mondego, the man!”