In recent weeks we have had a big dose of reality. And it has been hard. Very hard.
We had some very good things and some very good people and then - we didn't. Reality changed and deep loss was the new reality.
I'm learning that reality can be harder than ever when I live with the optimistic expectation that "Happily Ever After" will be the norm in this world. Reality is always harder if we are living with unrealistic optimism. The kind of optimism that causes us to forget that we are not in Heaven yet; we are not in the place where the tears have ceased. The optimistic forgetfulness that we are not yet in the place where the death of dreams - and the death of people - has been banished. In our optimism, we forget reality and then it sneaks up on us.
We find ourselves in the middle of a reality adjustment. And it's hard. Very hard.
But the good news about reality adjustments - and the ensuing struggle to make sense of it all - is that our struggle brings us back to our anchoring Hope.
That is the message we get from Ecclesiastes: Our present reality is full of the broken, full of loss, full of grief. Expect it. Brace yourself for it. It's unavoidable. The whole business of life and loss is difficult to wrap our minds around, difficult to get a grip on. It's misty and mysterious and vanishes like a meaningless vapor.
AND YET …
the greater reality is this: in the brokenness and loss, we will have
- the companionship of the Comforter,
- the nourishment of the Bread of Life,
- the refreshment of the Living Water,
- the renewed vision of the God Who Sees,
- the reorienting Wisdom of the Creator.
When we are near to him he will ease the sting, dilute the loss, balance out the hard, sooth the pain. Sometimes he does this through big, dramatic, unavoidable, miraculous interventions. Sometimes his care is displayed with small, glorious, ease-to-miss - yet still miraculous -interruptions.
This is the message of Ecclesiastes: In the middle of hard reality, enjoy him and his gifts. And know that the Yet-to-be will come. The truly REAL will come. And, in the meantime, he is abiding with us.
Some details about the last few weeks:
Learning on June 2 that Becki West, co-founder of KidZ (and my international traveling companion), was seeing Jesus face-to-face was a jolt. Her homegoing is a great loss and there is deep grief for what the KidZ staff will be missing in the months ahead - both personally and as an organization. Yet, it is wonderful to see how God is supplying to fill the gaps that are left by her absence and helping us all make the necessary adjustments.
Additionally, my heart was deeply saddened by the news that Jonathan, a young man who participated in the training during our trip to El Salvador, also went to be with Jesus. Jonathan loved teaching, and willingly helped in so many ways - he produced my trip video following the trip. He was only given 19 years to serve Jesus here and he was whole heartedly committed to sharing the redemption story. What a sorrow! Please pray for the team in El Salvador as they miss him.