There are certain seasons in life where it seems like all you can see are negative outcomes. It feels like worse case scenarios are the only possible future. And when you prepare for the worst, sometimes you are surprised, but often you see what you expect to see because our perspectives matter.
Back in the days when I flew on passenger airlines reasonably frequently (Do you remember those days?), I always was impressed by the higher altitude perspective of being at 1,000 or 10,000 or 39,000 feet. Everything from that altitude seemed so small. Then the book Don’t Sweat the Little Stuff in Life comes to mind where we are reminded to spend our energies on the most important things of life, not the least.
When Jesus was spending his last night on earth with his disciples, He had a lot to share. These were intimate times of sharing. He wanted to remind them that although He had to leave, He also was happy to leave the Holy Spirit with the disciples as He left. There was a purpose for His life, His death, His torture on the cross beyond what the disciples thought at the moment. Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the day after were terrible days of wondering the worst. Could all our faith and trust in Jesus been misplaced? Did He really mean to come and die a young man in the prime of His earthly ministry?
Sometimes we see our lives in the pandemic, and the losses of family members and friends during the pandemic, and just being so restricted in not seeing family members and friends that we feel the worst season is upon us. I get it. What could be worse than this season? I don’t know.
I do know that no matter what happens to the denomination and no matter what happens to the congregation and no matter what happens to you and me, we can still trust what Jesus says and does. In John 15: 12-16 Jesus helps his followers understand that they are no longer slaves or servants of the Lord, but rather Jesus’ friends. Friendship with Jesus is constant, even if the Church wavers and the public health and economy become incredibly unstable. There is something constant and stable in Jesus’ friendship with us, even when we are rebellious and sinful. He draws us back to Himself and reminds us that eternity is coming beyond all this. It starts in our hearts now, but stretches into a new heaven and a new earth.
Perspective is hard to gain during denominational wars, during cultural upheavals, during the loss of loved ones, our own health concerns, and during the lost of most of what we call “normal life.” I cling hard to those words at the end of chapter 16 of the Gospel of John with Jesus saying the following:
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
May He sustain you and keep you close to Himself in these days.