Today’s scripture readings are about weeping and rejoicing. Things that make us weep and things that make us rejoice. Jeremiah had a lot to weep about. War and famine were the order of the day. And yet Jeremiah recognized that all good things come from God, too. Is it not you alone, O Lord, our God, to whom we look? The psalmist proclaims, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever. And in John, Jesus is greeted by Martha at her brother’s funeral. Jesus tells her, I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Martha seems to get it as she proclaims, you are the Christ, the Son of God.
My 35 year high school reunion will be in a few days. I am really looking forward to it. I’ll see people I have not seen in decades. And yet something happened recently that made me almost dread going. The organizers of the reunion were having trouble finding some classmates. I agreed to help track down some that could not be found. I was saddened to discover that several of my classmates had died. I was stunned to find that one of my classmates had taken his own life. Neal and I had not been close friends, but we were friends. We talked about sports, music and girls. We never talked about Jesus. I never said a word about my faith. As I pondered the question of whether Neal knew Christ, guilt and sadness settled into my heart. My silence had possibly wrecked someone’s life. Here on earth and in eternity. I had failed as a follower of Christ because I did not want to appear foolish. I was starting in to a depressing, downward spiral. Like Jeremiah, I was crying, “Lord, what did I ever do to deserve this?”
However, as always, God speaks in mysterious ways. When I get depressed, I sometimes try to remedy it with physical labor: chopping, digging, smashing, pounding, or tearing. Some activity where you can destroy things and still be constructive. I know, I’m a little warped. The other day it was tearing old towels into rags. Some towels ripped quite easily. Sometimes I would hit a seam and struggle. On one towel, I hit a seam and it simply would not tear. I had half the towel pinned to the floor with my foot, pulling with all my might on the other half. The seam was winning the battle. I paused and looked closely at the seam. It was the same material as the rest of the towel. However, the seam had several layers of material woven together by thread.
I thought about my recent feelings of being a failure as a Christian. I realized that God is not the source of these feelings. God wants me to succeed and provides me with resources to succeed. I don’t have to do this all by myself. If I can weave God’s Word into my heart. If I can lock arms with and accept the support and love of other believers. My life may tear and unravel, but I will have a seam that will hold through most anything. I cannot change the past. I cannot undo what has happened. However, I can ask for forgiveness and pray for the strength to do better. As I thought about all this, of Christ’s sacrifice, of what a loving God we worship and of all I have been blessed with, I rejoiced and thought, “Lord, what did I ever do to deserve this?”
My prayer today is for those of us who need some courage to present Christ’s message of salvation to others.
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