Well, that was an interesting Holy Week, Easter and Passover.
We sometimes forget that these historic events occurred in tough times themselves. Passover, in the midst of great oppression, plagues and death in Egypt. And Holy Week—from the Triumphal Entry to the Crucifixion to the Resurrection—a time of vicious Roman occupation and oppression. Followed by an even tougher period of persecution and death in the ensuing decades. Over the centuries, there have been many Easters and Passovers altered by major world events and crisis.
Not to take anything away from the tough times our community—and the whole world—is experiencing with the COVID-19 pandemic. It is serious and it is tough. Especially for those infected by the virus, the heroic health-care workers, and the families who have lost loved ones.
I once heard a sermon that talked about suffering. It’s part of the human condition. Jesus himself suffered. Supremely. Suffering is not something we should seek, of course … but is it something that should be evaded? Or only endured? In the sermon we were challenged to consider the idea that we should embrace the suffering. Many affirmations were shared from the scriptures that suffering can lead to many fruits: perseverance, humility, trust, patience, compassion, emotional and spiritual growth, and the ability to minister to others in their time of suffering.
With medicine and technology, we have been successful in a) preventing or b) relieving suffering in our lives. I’m a fan of medicine and technology, to be sure. And yet I’ve been challenged in my own times of trial, and even now, to embrace that idea of embracing the suffering. It’s not easy. But I have noticed that I benefit much more when I lean into suffering with an open heart, rather than just endure it. I’m still learning … and resisting … but leaning in. In the words of C.S. Lewis:
We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, Blessed are they that mourn.
We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings …but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armor.
(God) wants us to love, and be loved. But we are like children, thinking our toys will make us happy and the whole world is our nursery. Something must drive us out of that nursery and into the lives of others, and that something is suffering.
COVID-19, too, shall pass. In the midst, there are great Signs of Hope all over Salem-Keizer.