We tend to be fixers. Solutions become placebos to keep a certain comfortable narrative in place: “we keep residence in a world that affirms our expectations.” The problem is that living according to that premise will never bring fulfillment because nothing of this earth will satisfy. We hold little control.
When brokenness unfolds as is inevitable, we feel restless. Why did that happen? Who is at fault? How can I alleviate the discomfort? If we refuse to acknowledge the reality of pain and drawn out uncertainty, it affects the ability to have shalom (being in right relationship with God and others.) Responding to others bears witness to what we believe to be true.
So, when encountering someone in crisis, what does Shalom look like? Setting down control and holding onto other things. Space. Hope. Recognizing we are all in this together, although our losses do not necessarily unfold all at the same time.
It might be the shortest verse in the Bible but it speaks volumes. Jesus gets word that Lazarus, brother of his friends Mary and Martha has died. He has the power to raise him from the dead but he doesn’t do that right away. In the in between, Jesus weeps. He sits in the anguish of what surrounds him. It is believed that the source of his grief is his anger at death. He feels the pain of the flesh. He hears the wails of the mourners and laments that their current connection to Lazarus is broken. He sits in the anguish. God sits in the anguish.
As image bearers, we are compelled to do the same. And while there, we echo the groaning that the Holy Spirit is muttering through us. The noise of brokenness that is in process of being redeemed.
“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.” Romans 8:26
NT Wright, in his book God and the Pandemic, wrtites, “Not only do we, the followers of Jesus not have any words to say, any great pronouncements on ‘what this all means’ to trumpet out to the world…but we the followers of Jesus, find ourselves caught up in the groaning of creation and we discover at the same time God the spirit is groaning with us. That is our vocation: to be in prayer, perhaps wordless prayer, at the point where the world is in pain.”
Make no mistake, God will keep using us to be agents of restoration. Even if we don’t end up seeing the fullness in our lifetime. We are compelled to be peacemakers, mourners, advocates for justice, mercy gifters, (Matthew 5:1-12)…..because that is central to our identity as Kingdom builders. And through it all, may we recognize Shalom doesn’t require answers. Just presence.
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