One of the advantages of being solely responsible for the content of a blog is having to answer to no one for deviating from the announced plan. I expect to return tomorrow to thoughts regarding Lent and the journey of Jesus toward his death in Jerusalem.
But today I simply offer reflection on the fragility of our lives in this world. I am not speaking only of the more obvious meaning of that term, such as its application to times when accidents or illness claim or seriously alter life. I am also thinking of the fragile nature of the mind and spirit of a person. We are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made. It is not difficult to marvel at the latter; we do so when we are in awe of the abilities of mind and body to create and to heal, to plan and to execute plans. The more we learn of the intricacies of our own physical structure the more the wonder leads us to praise.
What of the “fearfully” part? Is it a reference to our being subject to physical breakdown, either through age or sudden catastrophe? Is it that the same intricate inner workings of the complex systems that make up our bodies can turn and work against our health, rather than for it? Is it a reminder to do what we can to guard our bodies, given the precious nature of the life they hold, not only for ourselves, but for those who share life with us? And what about those others, with whom we have relationships of many kinds, all of which are themselves subject to both healthy and unhealthy expression, bringing both great joy and great heartache?
We are told that God knows our frame, that He has not forgotten that we are but dust; he knows our thoughts from afar. Both of these are truths of which we need to be reminded, as is Paul’s warning that no one knows the thoughts or heart of another person, rendering judgments thereon as words we are unfit to pronounce. That thought continues with the clear statement that it is to our own master that we stand or fall–and that He is able to make us stand. And that ability–no, that promise–to make us stand is not something we undo by succumbing to the pressures of life.
Few of us, though perhaps more of us than what is readily apparent, find life so overwhelming that we seriously entertain thoughts of taking our own lives. Why would a person, especially one who has a solid hope in Christ as sufficient for all of our needs, be in so desperate a position? How would someone who brought encouragement and the blessing of faith fail to find it at a critical point? Was medication intended to maintain that fearfully delicate balance in the brain responsible for its undoing instead? We don’t know. And we will not know. But there are some things we can know.
We know that life hurts at times; sometimes it hurts unbearably, in ways never to become visibly manifested even to those closest and dearest. And no one is immune to things which they would never foresee happening to them. Even the best efforts at mitigation are not always successful because of the complex sort of beings we are; we are not reducible to a formula or equation.
We also know, or should know, that for those who are in Christ there is no condemnation. When Paul writes of the great Christian hope at the close of the same eighth chapter of Romans, he tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Nothing in all creation. His power to hold surpasses the power of confusion, delusion, and anything else in the created order. The depths and heights of our experience of living, always clouded when compared to the perfect vision that yet awaits us, cannot separate us from the hope of Easter. Nor can the sadness, the temporary rocking of our world, or the fearful yet wonderful nature of our being in this world. For now we groan; tomorrow we shall yet rejoice.