Wouldn’t we all like a cure? A fix? A pivotal shift? Renewal? Redemption?
When I think back on my 2019, I see financial distress, broken relationships, a late miscarriage, anger, tension, fighting, more counseling, more heart-wrenching sobs, health problems, friends who are suffering. It’s been really really awful.
I’d like to think that 2020 will be the year of -or beginning of- triumph over tragedy, heartfelt gratitude, and continual success.
But I’m starting to realize that God doesn’t owe me a thing. And all of my trials are to keep me humble.
Today I was watching the life story of cartoonist John Callahan; it’s the sort of drama that takes you through every emotion possible but also really makes you think. Callahan was an alcoholic before his quadriplegia, eventually attended AA religiously because he had become so tormented, and climbed the daunting ladder of “12 Steps.”
The supposed (according to the director of the film) humility that this man gained at the end of his torn apart life performs heart surgery on the viewer. How could he forgive all those who’d wronged him? How could he let go of his horrendous past? How could he forgive himself for choosing debauchery? How could he think of his pain less and think of others more? How could he become so selfless after going through so much shit?
What’s interesting to examine about this is that Jesus himself took on humility this way- he demonstrated it (obedience to the father) by taking the low road in life. He was born as a vulnerable baby to poor & sinful people who didn’t fully understand him, he was a child with potential and unprecedented wisdom but with no safe place to rest, he was a man who chose not to sin yet lived intimately with sinners, he was called a drunk because he hung out with drunkards, he performed strange and unusual miracles that many couldn’t comprehend, many did not respect him, some trusted him yet betrayed him, he was well acquainted with grief, and then he died a most horrific death at the hands of people God had created and commanded “Do Not Commit Murder” and yet they were allowed to do just that in a vile and wretched form to a man who absolutely did not deserve it.
He lived a life of humility. And it was a hard life. But it was necessary.
And so, when I think about my 2019, am I saddened? Yes. Am I disappointed? Yep. Am I struggling to hope? Definitely.
But do I expect life to be easy and for God to wipe away all of my troubles? No.
My one solace is this- I have the privilege of crying out for mercy any time and all the time.
Jesus’s life and death paved the way for me to cry out for mercy and to many times receive it with far more dignity than I deserve.
No matter how far into the rubble and frightening caverns we go -even as deep as Callahan fell- there is Someone who hears. He went to the depths of Hell and then rose from the grave SO THAT he could listen to you and show you daily mercy and lead you to an eternal place of Rest. This life won’t be restful. But this life is far from The End.