How could we ever forget our loved ones? We will never forget them. Since we cannot forget them, how could God ever forget them? Each one of us is unforgettable and with inestimable worth. God loves us and remembers us.
Martin and I read a psalm the other day (Psalm 88:3-9) As it talks about suffering, Christ's and our's, it made me cry as I read it out loud.
For my soul is full of troubles,
and my life draws near to Sheol.
I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
I am a man who has no strength,
like one set loose among the dead,
like the slain that lie in the grave,
like those whom you remember no more, for they are cut off from your hand.
You have put me in the depths of the pit,
in the regions dark and deep.
Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
and you overwhelm me
with all your waves.
You have caused my companions to shun me;
you have made me a horror to them.
I am shut in so that I cannot escape;
my eyes grow dim through sorrow.
Every day I call upon you, O LORD;
I spread out my hands to you.
One thing that struck me was that one of the features of suffering is the fact that your usual companions do shun you, as the Psalm alludes. Jesus disciples dispersed except for a few. In grief, after the initial wave of sympathy, no one knows what else to say and do. It becomes a burden too heavy to bear. So they think that someone else will sit with you, do things with you, counsel you. Like with the disciples it is a matter of fear and self-protection. But when everyone else thinks that someone else will do it, in the end nobody does it. This is a cruel effect of suffering which deepens it yet more. And to some extent there is not much than can be done about that.
But while I have been able to live without sharing the sorrow with others much, I have not been able to live without God's comfort. We have needed him like never before. We have prayed together, though we are not the types and it feels even too intimate for a married couple, though it is getting more natural. All I can say from my vantage point: there is no life worth living without prayer and praise. Let God's words penetrate deeply.
There is much wonderful fun in life. Sunshine, flowers, adventure, friends, music, love are all tremendous beyond description, just to mention a few things. There are myriad of pleasures great and small. But it is all meaningless without prayer and praise. It really, really is. It is all dead and subject to decay. Even the sun will have its end. But in God and his word is life and hope and joy. What else can we do with our troubles and whom else shall we thank? All other things are faulty and fleeting to one degree or another.
Friend, if you have not been doing it, I encourage you this Easter to make your way to church and then go back every Sunday to celebrate God's life. I encourage you to find your Bible or prayerbook on the bookshelf, if you do not have it handy and use it regularly. If you do not own any, find someone who will help you buy a good one. And talk with that person.
You may not think that you belong in church, but by nature none of us belong in church. We are all strangers to God's life, but he invites us into it. Whether we have been broken by sin, people, hypocrites or death and grief, the church is the place of life for us because we have God's words and promises there, and this is where he opens heaven to us even while on earth. It may not look it from your current vantage point, but it is the truth. One has to have open ears, eyes and hearts.
Never think that you are too lowly to go to church. A Christmas a little while back, I was at the cashier's in a store in a small town and I asked the lady, if she was going to go to a church service for the holidays. She got very mad and said that all the people in church were hypocrites and put her down and there was no way she was going to church. She got very agitated.
It is not really so with God, who invites all to come to him, no matter how heavily burdened. Listen to a story Jesus told of the sinner and the hypocrite praying at the temple. The hypocrite said: "I thank you God that I am not like other people..." The sinner said: "Lord, have mercy on me a sinner." It was the sinner who went away "justified" said Jesus.
Who tells stories like Jesus? No one else. Everyone else just tells you to be good. Jesus has come for sinners and the lowly and despised and broken. He is for me and you. He is God. Only God can know us so well and invite us to himself with our brokenness and tell such stories. Go to him. He is for you.
"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." (John 3:17)