When it hurts too much
Last Friday’s terrible crash at the intersection of two rural roads just northwest of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, has caused many to ponder and pray, perhaps a little more frequently and a little more deeply than we might otherwise have done these days following Easter. The death of 16 young people, including coaches, players, support staff, and the driver of the Humboldt Broncos’ bus, has shocked and shaken many Canadians.
To spend much time focusing on the incredible loss of life is, for some, more than they can manage. This week, at our church Drop In for high school students, several walked past our sanctuary admitting the obvious – “its too painful to even think about”. These students are not any less caring than the rest of us; they are simply being honest about how closely tied together caring and pain are in our lives. To remain open to one is to invite the other. The choice is relatively simple. Either, protect yourself by investing less in caring for others and the pain in their lives, or practice your faith, investing even more than you feel capable of offering, to those who are hurting or struggling in life.
Hallelujah, we have a God who is right there in the midst of all the hurting. Psalm 34 tells us, “The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” I love how Eugene Peterson translates part of Psalm 71 – “I run for dear life to God, I’ll never live to regret it…You’re my salvation. You keep me going when times are tough.” Only God can keep us going when we feel overwhelmed or broken by the events or experiences in our lives and the lives of our friends or family.
Jesus shows us how to relate to those in tough circumstances. Jesus always approached hurting people with an openness to their heartache and an awareness of the heart of God for all who suffer. Rather than back away and investing less, Jesus always stepped forward. He invested a great deal more than we might think would be humanly possible, for good reason – he was God’s Son. He gave away everything he had to offer compassion, healing and peace. And in the end it did not kill him, it raised him higher than anyone could have imagined.
“Peace be with you”, he said to his followers after his resurrection. Jesus offered them, and still offers us HIS peace, knowing it is not something that we find in ourselves. We can’t give it to ourselves by being ‘stronger’ or ‘braver’. In fact, the only way we receive the fulness of Christ’s peace is by becoming completely vulnerable; admitting what we lack and acknowledging our need. Whenever we open the door to absorb some great pain, we take the first steps toward finding and applying God’s promise to our lives – “I’ll be with you always, even to the end of the age”.