“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20
As I write this, I am sitting in my study at the church, staring out my window and watching the rain downpour onto the parking lot pavement. My mind goes to the many families and farmers on Sumas Prairie in Abbotsford—those who have already needed to evacuate their homes. And now the flooding is only encouraged by the ongoing ‘atmospheric rivers’ coming from above.
Watching the rain reminds me of a documentary I recently read, where a man was stuck in a hotel elevator for three days after a massive earthquake hit the area he was visiting in Haiti. In that situation, it wasn’t just the initial shock of the event that caused distress. There was also the fear of the aftershocks.
Aftershocks—if you’re unfamiliar with the term—are essentially smaller tremors that follow the largest shock of an earthquake, but they can be equally as damaging. And oftentimes, since the initial shock catches us so off-guard, what causes the most distress is the fear of the aftershocks. Will there be even more damage than what we’ve already endured?
We can carry a great deal of emotional weight when we bear pain that is ongoing—the ‘will-this-ever-end’ kind of pain when all we can do is wait it out and see what happens.
I suppose we could call it the ‘aftershocks’ of tragedy, when grief begins to settle, when the fear sinks in, and when we imagine ourselves having to go through the ongoing effects of whatever has caused pain.
What will be the impact? What will others think? Will we be okay? What do we do now?
Whether it’s a pandemic, flooding, fear, loneliness, or an ongoing health concern, the dreaded (and usually rhetorical) question of “will this ever end?” eventually hits us all. There will be seasons that inspire this question and force us endure ongoing struggle and confusion.
What are we to say, then, in response to that question? Do we have the courage to say, “Yes, yes it will”? Or as one farmer put it, “This too shall pass”? Do we believe in a God whose great love attends to us in the aftershocks?
“The life I now live in the body,” said Paul, “I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Sometimes—in the midst of struggle—it takes a lot of courage to say that we are loved personally by the God of the universe. It takes courage to accept that regardless of what we are enduring, Jesus was the incarnate love of God come down. And he came to us to demonstrate that love.
When we look at the cross, Jesus is saying to us, “God loves you like that, with a love that is limitless, a love that will bear every suffering earth has to offer you.”
Can we have the courage to accept this, to be nourished and encouraged by this, even though our circumstances or others’ circumstances may seem to be otherwise? Can we trust this, even though the world around us and the sufferings of others seem to indicate otherwise?
It takes courage to know that you are loved. It takes courage to say that you are loved. It takes courage to believe that you are loved, especially in the direst or longest of seasons.
One author puts it this way: “Courage is not the absence of fear and despair; it is the capacity to move forward confidently trusting the maker of the heavens to cover us with the shadow of his mighty hand even if the sky should fall.”
May you feel ‘covered’ today in the loving shadow of the Almighty God who knows, protects, sees, and loves you with an everlasting love.
Prayer: Consider someone in your life who may need the love of God to break into the midst of their pain; and then speak the lyrics below as a prayer to the Lord.
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father.
There is no shadow of turning with Thee.
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not.
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.
Great is Thy faithfulness, great is Thy faithfulness.
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided.
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.
Song: Have a listen to this really beautiful version of “His Eye is on the Sparrow” by the Getty’s.