As you are partakers of Christ's sufferings; when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." I Peter 4:13
Maybe it was when I watched the elderly woman crying on the door stoop, or the Vietnam vet begging for food, or the two little children being dragged around by an irritated nanny, or the sting operation that captured two young handsome boys passing counterfeit 20 dollar bills, or maybe hearing of the slow sorrow of a father caring for his dying son in hospice, or reflecting on the depths of divisions in our country and the politics of ego and power. It could have been all of these sad occurrences at once which thrust me into an almost predictable emotional “funk.”
A neighbor of mine with Buddhist persuasion light heartily said “hey man, it’s all illusion anyway.” I responded, “Not if you are sitting on my door stoop. Do you pay real taxes, or illusionary taxes?”
Kobe Bryant’s tragic death (along with the loss of his amazing daughter and seven others) reminded me that deeper desire to “love one another” is not only important but sometimes urgent. In the midst of our unpredictable world, we all look to find a way to “help us through the night.” All of us have plans we hope to embrace for the future...perhaps a wedding or a celebration or an adventure...we all have plans! Kobe’s plan was simply to take his daughter to basketball training. An immense tragedy changed that plan.
The Scottish poet Robert Burns put it this way: “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” History is replete with perfect plans for conquest and success, and in a moment a battle is lost, a nation crushed...as Churchill put it “the terrible ifs accumulate.” If only I had said goodbye... If only the pilot had heeded the weather warnings... If only...
All of us have plans, dreams, ideas, and “bucket lists.” When we lean into God’s plan, we can find hope through our suffering, or be a beacon of hope for others.
Our faith in Jesus Christ is built upon the power of the cross. Failure can be turned into wisdom, brokenness into wholeness, sin into forgiveness. We can hit the proverbial re-start button through repentance and forgiveness, which allows us to start over in humility, purpose and dedication.
Forgiveness is a powerful tool which allows others to see our love lived out in service and kindness. We are called to love one another. As you sit on your door stoop and see people with sorrows imprinted on their worn faces, maybe you can offer a kindness, a prayer, a helping hand; and with God’s grace they might know we are disciples of Christ by what we proclaim and the love we show one another.
Praying for such a grace for us all.