Once Upon a Time
We also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us…. – Romans 5:3-5
“Once upon a time…”.
Every child, and child-at-heart, knows that these word introduce an epic story. It’s certain to be a story with twists and turns, plenty of darkness and despair. But we keep reading because in the end, no matter how desperate or hopeless the plot may seem, we know that…
“…they all lived happily ever after”.
This past weekend I officiated at a wedding. Two couples had become good friends in their early years, but over time had lost touch. One of them lost a spouse, and thinking that their old friends would want to know she reached out to them, only to discover that his spouse had also died just days before. Talk about a plot line of darkness and despair.
But they rekindled their friendship, supported one another through their grief and found love again in one another. They exchanged vows and rings and we prayed that by God’s grace they would live happily ever after.
Light breaks through darkness.
Hope invades despair.
Life defeats death.
As followers of Jesus we are a people who believe that we are living an epic story. That’s good to remember given the darkness and hopelessness of the news this past week. It’s even more important to remember that the story isn’t over, that because of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection the trajectory of all creation is “happily ever after”. That’s hard to see at the moment. That’s why it’s called hope.
And because of the hope that is ours in Christ, as we live into this story, we can…
…love our neighbor and even our perceived enemies
…focus on the speck in my own eye and leave the judging to God
…work for peace
…do justice, love mercy, walk humbly
We’re in an ugly chapter of the story right now. It’s OK to be afraid, angry and sad. But don’t give up hope. The story isn’t over.
Jeff Marian is lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN