Friday, June 22, 2007

Truth Number 7

7 - Always look on the dark side of life - do doot, doo do da do da doot (i.e. share in sufferings, don't treat them as petty things).

Our Congregation has a tradition of doing a passion story style crucifixion scene on Good Friday. As I am the pastor, I can't do it, because Good Friday Tenebrae follows immediately afterwards. This is good. Because I am one sick puppy, I don't think I could make it hanging on a cross for 30 minutes without starting to at least hum "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" by Monty Python.

Oftentimes we think first and foremost of pointing out to people their blessings, of the good in the midst of bad. And quite often, when people are suffering (and sometimes agonizing over things that are quite silly) our instinct is to say, "It's not so bad."

It is for them. Whether they are lamenting something silly and stupid or something everyone would think is devestating - at that moment, they are suffering. While it is true that even in the midst of sorrows God does continue to show blessing - that may not be the teaching that they need immediately. At first they need compassion.

I love the hymn verse "God said to His beloved Son: 'It's time to have compassions. Now go, bright Jewel of My crown, and bring to all salvation.'" Time for compassion - time to literally share in the sufferings that mankind has - to bear up their burdens. As Pastors, we need to be prepared to show compassion - and then when we have shared in their sufferings they will be ready to hear the comfort in Christ we share. If you do not show compassion, then they can write you off - you don't understand, and so your words are pointless. Show them you know their sufferings and even in the midst of them have comfort.

There is a story which I have heard that a young minister attempted to comfort C.S. Lewis at the death of his wife by saying things we better now. Lewis cut him off saying, "No, this is a tragedy." Lewis was right - it was a tragedy, it wasn't the way things should be. Agree, share in the sufferings - and then point to the Father who out of His compassion sent His Son to make things right. Always share in suffering, as Christ Jesus your Lord did.

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