This has been an especially tough week for my family.
The funny thing is … last week was busy and stressful but we looked forward to the following week thinking that “then we could rest.” My wife had an ultra busy week and I had a great deal going on at the office but the thought was that after her big event and after I passed a few big meetings then we could breathe a little. This week, however, we are dealing with the loss of loved ones and the stress at my job has only ramped up.
I was struck by two things from today’s reading for advent.
Psalm 126:5-6 – Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.
Nowhere in scripture does it say that we’ll have an easy life or that things will always be good for us. The concept of “if we’re good, right, and moral then things will go well for us” is something that’s completely outside of scripture. What we are promised is that we live in a broken world and that things will go wrong from time to time. But, we have hope. Hope that while we sow in tears we will reap with joy.
In the same week this week, we’ll be attending two memorial services. One for a cousin and another for an uncle (two different sides of the family). While losing these family members is sad and at the services, there were and will be plenty of tears, there was and will be laughter. We weep at the loss but have hope in the knowledge that we’ll see them again. For them, they have already united with all of us. We who live on are left here to finish the race. We remember and honor their memory, share their stories, share our experiences. So in some small way, they live on in our hearts and go along with us for what we have left of our own journey.
Philippians 3:13-14 – … But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Now that we move along in our own journeys, what are we to do? Keep running. Strain for what lies ahead. Press on toward the goal of our upward call. Remember that while a runner is aware of what is behind them they do not look back. A runner with their head turned is likely to stumble over something that could have been avoided and they certainly won’t run as quickly as if their head was looking forward. It’s not that we forget the past, but rather that we learn from it and become better because of it.
I will not foolishly proclaim that next week will be better than this week. I do have hope that it will be. The beauty is that I’m aware of the long-term destination. So come what may, my hope is unshaken. There will be tears along the way, but there will also be laughter, love, joy, and peace. It is not lost on me that we are between the weeks of Peace and Joy on our churches advent calendar. May we all find peace and joy this week.