Comforted By Hope: A Brief Reflection

 "Starry Night," a personal favorite.

"Starry Night," a personal favorite.

In my sorrow, Lord walk with me
In my sorrows, Lord walk with me
When my heart is aching
Lord, I want Jesus to walk with me

Many of you know the feeling of grueling fatigue after tragedy after tragedy strikes and yet one continues to be run down and bruised by an enemy (material or immaterial) again, and again using any and every means at their disposal to tear down and destroy. And yet they are called to more. I've been struck this past year by the sheer potential if everyone simply did what Jesus told us to do. If we loved our neighbor as ourselves and loved our enemies! There would be no enemies if we all just loved one another and gave the other preference and the benefit of the doubt. And yet, we may live out of sync with a warped world.

Dr. Martin Luther King spoke of love as something vibrant and creative whereas hate seeks to ruin and destroy in the end destroying the very personality of the hater. If our life purpose and goal should be a tangible love from a sincere heart and faith and that this is a hope that testifies before God and to ourselves that we belong to God, then nothing is ever truly lost or fully hidden. If I can come out loving those who distort my image, project their evil and insecurities onto me, abuse, harass, slander, misinterpret, launch distortion campaigns, marginalize, isolate or seek to physically harm then maybe that is enough? If I can see the good in one who mistreats me, where there is actual good, then maybe I've learned something more about myself than if the wrong never occurred? If I am approaching evil with the question of how can I love and build up today, maybe there is something in being the person to continually ask the question? 

In abusive contexts, one is often made responsible for others feelings and required to validate them as gospel truth at the expense of one's own and if you don't, they will find some way to make you. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and feelings, but it is what we do with them that ultimately matters. Unfortunately, in distorted contexts, one is constantly pressured to be subservient and silent either through group pressure, physical violence, totalitarian approaches or other forms of harassment. One feels the pressure constantly like a crushing weight and the constant fear anytime one comes out of hiding for just a moment--though I have learned in life that hiding is not always safe either. And yet, sometimes it is enough to know Jesus walks with me in times of sorrow and trouble. He did all of this and more already and has not left me alone today.

Knowledge that Jesus walks beside me and that I have life in the Spirit even in suffering only encourages me to step out again and again. To live, speak and be even while I know doing so will have consequences. And life experience has told me that indeed horrible, destructive things might happen with lasting consequences and no happy ending in this life, but also wonderful if not miraculous things happen. Suffering for those who are responding to the Spirit acts like fertilizer and the tree bears more fruit. And not only that, the Gospel of peace is contagious and just might spread. I have known enemies to become even more bitter enemies but also enemies to become friends or at least brothers and sisters in the Lord. God works and ultimately it is up to them to think in terms of creation over destruction, but there is always hope when God is involved.