A Big Deal
Sometimes our care for each other sucks. (There, you made me use that word that Momma told me never to use. But it’s true. Sometimes we suck.) We don’t mean to suck. But therein lies a big part of the problem: we don’t know what lands on each other like an anvil, for two major reasons: those afflicted don’t say so, and the afflictors assume that their words are at worst neutral. But our words matter: our words of comfort, and our words of feedback in response to “comfort”. Here are two principles that are crucial in showing and receiving comfort.
If it’s a big deal, then let it be a big deal. On the one hand, that statement is so obvious as to be not worth writing. But we tend to define for others what should and should not be a big deal. Or we fear that if they make too big a deal out of this, they will forever be lost in their grief, finding their identity in that grief, not in God. So we immediately try to downplay, for the other person, the magnitude of their suffering or grief. We do it wrapped in biblical packaging, but that’s what we’re doing. But what if, at that very moment, on the heals of the miscarriage, or lost job, or legal separation, GOD thinks, “This is a big deal”? We are then working against God. And then, doubling down, the suffering or grieving person says, “The people of God don’t understand me. They know a lot, but not me. Neither does God. Perhaps I should look elsewhere for help.” Not good.
A bigger deal has happened; and a bigger deal is coming. Some sufferings will mark us in some way the rest of our lives. There are plenty of struggles that will only be fixed in a new, glorious body and world. We enter in that future state by looking back at the greatest suffering the world has ever known - the cross. We see there that God is with me in my lot. And we see there our guarantee of our hope. Our power to endure comes, in the end, whether we are facing life without a spouse or children, or the end of life itself, in the hope of the new life to come. We patiently pray for this hope, because everything hinges upon it: our endurance, our sanity, our existence, our joy.
We can let today’s sufferings be a big deal, because a bigger deal comes soon.