|A wonderful old friend...a morning of anguish!|
Our recent pain around the loss of our beloved dog, Gandalf, was a not so gentle reminder. The Apostle Paul (prompted by the Spirit of God), challenged Christ followers to carry one anothers' burdens. In the process we would help fulfill the responsibility we have toward
one another as fellow believers (Galatians 6:2).
But, aside from some of the more obvious empathy in "burden-lifting," what's the rest of that code really about?
Before the Fall (Genesis 3:1-6ff), as best we can understand it and at the least, the concept of human death, dying, and destruction didn't exist. Creation was "good" (Genesis 1:10, 25, etc.). But then, no thanks to the Tempter's deception (Genesis 3:1-6) and the first couple's good-intentioned disobedience, CRASH!, everything changed. Before that noisy and confusing moment, expectations for life were justifiably and understandably high; life was really good. Now, of course, life's joys quite often come confusingly post-scripted with emotional chaos and pain. From that wreck forward there's been a dis-connect between our great expectations of life and then all the stuff that does or can go wrong. "Stuff" happens to us and around as we live our lives in a very broken world.
"What goes wrong" is about a whole lot of really bad and painful stuff. Following a spiritual disconnect from Creator God, Spirituality goes completely downhill. Consider a couple obvious (?) examples:
- Our Spiritual disconnect finds us, on our own, incorrigibly inclined to explain life, assign a purpose to it, and then "do it" all wrong. Unwittingly, we distance ourselves from its intended meaning and purpose. It's like my stumbling across an honest-to-goodness real magic wand. But because I don't know what it really is, and being a coffee fan, I decide to wash it off and cut it into shorter, discard-able stick pieces for stirring my morning brew. Ha.
- Given our chronological distance from the crash....We hear that maybe there is a God somewhere "out there" or "up there" in Heaven. We also hear it reported that He is said to be good, loving and kind, benevolent, and all-knowing, etc. So when someone close to us, or maybe when we ourselves, experience the tragedy of some great disappointment, injustice and pain, "this good, loving and kind God" predictably becomes a target of our anger and contempt.
Mercifully, God's compassion toward his fallen creation promised a rescue--at great personal cost to Him. His own precious Son sacrificed his own life, inside our time and space continuum, to dramatically change the outcome of it all. But between the final, full realization of that hope there lies a temporal distance--a lag. It's like the momentary pause between depressing the accelerator on a turbocharged engine and then experiencing the turbo boost.
Here's where the pain in Gandalf's loss fits into all of this. This big, fluffy, smart, "talking" DOG became a really good friend to us. We had the privilege to know him for 11 years. Then, suddenly the morning of Sunday, February 3rd, he was taken from us. "Aargh...it's just not fair!"
As a Christ-follower I ask, "What am I to do with the loss of this great friend...this pain. Didn't Jesus give his life so I wouldn't have to experience such awfulness any more? Actually the answer to that is both, "Yes," and, "No." Yes, he did, but, no, the complete realization of Jesus precious gift will not be our experience until I--we--step away from this still broken earth, or until He returns, whichever event comes first. In the meantime...tragedies happen.
So, how are we to deal with the pain and disappointment of loss in this meantime? Two ways: 1) We resolutely hope in (anticipate!) that future "turbo" burst (1Peter 1:3-7), WHILE, 2) we tenderly and self-sacrificially stand in the gap to support one another, and for one another, and grow that hope in our hearts. The losses are still painful...but we remember...that promised turbo-burst is coming!!
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35)