Yesterday, our topic was “Enlarging Your Soul Through Grief and Loss.” We looked at how Jesus engaged grief and loss by looking at the gospel passages related to the Garden of Gethsemane (see previous post).
[Also, it sounds like I generated some good dialogue through my comments on racism. Just to be clear… I believe that Anglos (white-folks) carry a cultural propensity toward racism. And that until we admit it, we can’t really begin to be free from it. I’m not insisting that I am right about this, only that it is my current thinking (and has been for quite a while). My objective is to encourage people to think, pray, and dialogue. Remember, unity is not a goal, but a fruit — the fruit of knowing, respecting, and relaeasing one another to be who God has called us to be.]
RE: Gethsemane passages — If I were a gospel writer I might have conveniently forgotten to add this text to the narrative…
- This text depicts an unsettled – and unsettling Jesus. In this text Jesus is a little more human than we’re comfortable with…
- In the West, we like our heroes steely, strong, and dignified (like John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, etc.). This is not the mighty, victorious Jesus that we are used to seeing depicted.
- Part of the mystery of Jesus is that he was both fully God and fully human. (Maximus the Confessor)
- In the passage we see the MAN, Christ Jesus deeply struggling with the fulfillment of his calling.
- What’s Jesus struggling with? While we can’t REALLY know the depths of his struggle – we know he was facing total abandonment by his Father in heaven, betrayal by a beloved friend, he struggled with facing the physical agony of a torturous death. And how could we possibly know what it would feel like to bear the full weight of every sin that was ever committed – and would ever be committed?? Every act of injustice, every murder, every rape, every racist act, every adulterous act, every incestuous act, every lie, every bribe – the full weight of every sin for all time was bearing down on the Man, Christ Jesus.
- These moments in the Garden of Gethsemane become THE defining moment in the history of the world… where the Man, Christ Jesus chooses, by an act of human will – empowered by the HS, the Father’s will and desire over his own – and he fully embraces grief and loss.
What does Jesus teach us about prayer? That we should ask away — “This is what I want…” YET MORE IMPORTANTLY, “I want to want what You want God.”
How Enlargement Happens…
1. Pay attention to the interruptions.
- Avoid superficial forgiveness. Pete Scazzero make a pretty bold statement in EHC: “I do not believe it is possible to truly forgive another person from the heart until we allow ourselves to feel the pain of what was lost. People who say it is simply an act of the will, do not understand grieving” (pg 157).
- So, how do we pay attention? 1) We need to stop and feel. It may spending time in thought and prayer – or it may be journaling… 2) It would be helpful to read the journaling, poetry, and prose of the Bible writers: More than half the psalms are lament psalms, Jeremiah wrote the book of Lamentations – lamenting the destruction of Jerusalem (City of Peace), Job is about grief and loss. Notice how Jesus grieved in the gospel accounts. 3) Pay attention to our pain.
- Try not to stuff interruptions — or medicate them.
- Take a retreat day and journal your grief and losses.
2. Aim to live in the confusing “in-between.”
- Heb 5:7 tells us that Jesus, “learned obedience from the things he suffered.” Being willing to go here will break down our self-will.
- We are invited to live with our confusion and bewilderment – and to take it to God. I spoke a few weeks ago about a three-fold cycle that Linda and I have adopted to build our marriage: romance, disillusionment, and joy…
- In EHC Scazzero quotes OT theologian Walter Brueggemann as describing the psalms in a similar way – 3 types: orientation (songs of delight in God’s blessings and goodness), disorientation (songs of hurt, suffering, and grief), and reorientation (songs of deliverance, what we would now call songs of resurrection – or transformation).
- If we’re honest, we’d have to admit that in times of disorientation we are given to either rebellion or willfulness in an attempt to escape the pain.
- It’s in these confusing, disorienting times that we have the opportunity to be discipled to Christ…
3. Allow the old to birth the new.
- A grace disguised…
- To the degree that we are willing to feel and embrace grief and loss is the degree to which we will know joy – and true compassion.
- As we deeply grieve it empties our soul of all kinds of junk. 1) It pulls stuff out of us, 2) Creates a vacancy in our lives for God, 3) A couple of weeks ago I said that prayer is, first and foremost, listening for God to tell you that you are his beloved. And that obedience is, first and foremost, building a quiet center into our lives, 4) What I am trying to say is that leaning into grief and loss and learning to live in those confusing in-between times will lay the foundation for that quiet center in our lives, and
- We are not to get over our losses, we are to absorb them into our being and let them take us to God – it creates unimagined joy and authentic compassion.
- Do you know what our greatest fear SHOULD BE? Hardheartedness.
This coming week: Living in Brokenness and Vulnerability (probably from Matthew 5:3ff)