A few months ago, I had a plan to dedicate a lengthy period of time writing on Paul’s excellent description of love and how real love appears. After my initial post, struggling through the day-to-day, I realized that there is something different on which I need to focus my attention: grief and exploitation. The two would not necessarily seem to go together, at least, in my eyes, but I suspect that, while striving to overcome grief, the enemy uses it to exploit the grieving. C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters would, if accurate, show the subtleties of the enemy’s work in human life. Perhaps there is merit in that belief.
At the end of June, my dad went to go be with the Lord after fifty-eight years of life, thirty-three of which I had been a part. He was able to succeed with the very difficult task of being both a parent and a friend and, to me, he was my best friend and closest confidant. Though conceited and haughty, I felt he was the only one to be qualified enough to issue advice on virtually any topic in my life, from existential issues to intellectual and I sought this out regularly. Even though nearly everyone says it about everyone close to them who pass away, I know he really is in a better place. The moment after he passed from this life, he saw Jesus. Nevertheless, what comfort exists from this certainty is fought on every level with my selfish desire for a chance to hug him one more time and one more after that and one more after that or for one more chance to say, “Hey, dad, lemme ask you something” – and one more after that and, yet, one more after that.
Shortly after this huge blow to my hope that my parents would never pass away, my engagement ended (longer, still continuing story of God’s love than I am sharing at the moment). Shortly after this, family walked away from family and things degraded further in other areas. Truly, when it rains, it pours – what is rarely ever added to the maxim, however, is, “when it pours, it erodes.”
It seems that there is a lot of focus on preserving one’s faith from moments of crisis wherein one would perceive to be in a period of great doubt, yet if one listens closely, they will find that the Lord’s comfort answers loudly to the doubt. I offer an alternative, though, in that it is a greater concern where, in moments of great duress, the reigns on one’s tongue, heart, mind, and flesh are softly and, in certain ways, seemingly sweetly loosed in such a way so as to make huge course changes from minor deviations. In moments of pain, we are often so inclined to seek out worldly pleasures to numb the immediacy and, little by little, we find ourselves off course.
The matter of greatest concern should not be the strongest blows against us, for we have the examples of the Apostles who, ministering to the world, were impoverished, imprisoned, persecuted, and murdered for Christ’s sake. No, the greatest danger is, in fact, the sharpening of the tool used to try to hack away at our joy and spirit until it becomes a blade which whittles away, shaving by shaving, until we are far more diminished than we were before. Our prayer, especially mine, should be that we would be strengthened to maintain great care in keeping the reigns tight and well-controlled, so that we would not push fresh and salt water from our mouths and paradoxically attempt to worship and sin simultaneously, but, instead, continue to cling to the heels of a faithful and trustworthy Lord.