While we all know in our heads death is terrible. I struggle to think of any instance where we truly rejoice. But we approach it from a strange place in church.
It’s our vehicle the ultimate prize. It’s the goal line. We’ve run the race and are ready for our reward.
So despite its purely destructive nature, we take a strange approach to death. We see the redemption that Jesus has brought to and through death and it’s now just not so bad.
This redemptive nature of Jesus is so powerful it must be acknowledged and celebrated. It must be trumped and exclaimed for everyone to hear. It’s the power of the gospel. Jesus has come to redeem everything.
But that redemption is a process. It’s not a static action. It’s not that everything that has occurred and will occur has been redeemed. It can be, but may not be yet.
And it’s this temporal nature of redemption that I think leads to a lot of pain.
Pain when we say “don’t worry its God’s plan”
Pain when we say “God’s in control”
Pain when we see the possibility for redemption and speak as though it’s already happened.
The pain is real.
The loss is real.
The devastation is real.
When we speak as though redemption has happened we speak as though the pain, loss or devastation isn’t real. We speak as though we should no longer feel the pain, loss or devastation. We speak as though life will continue in the same way it always had.
These aren’t scars of a past memory but open wounds that need tending and caring.
I think we miss this as a church body. We miss this by a long shot.
Tending to those wounds requires proximity. We have to be in the mess with them. We have to see the damage. We can’t skip over it. We have to call it what it is and address the reality of it. We have to see the fullness of the damage to have a prayer of mending it.
We take part in the long, sometimes agonizing healing process. We are part of the search and journey of redemption, which is often only seen when we reflect back.
Even if we’re told its coming we don’t often see redemption as it’s happening. We can’t understand it until we’re in it look at back at it.
We dream and hope and desire for it.
I have experienced few things as hurtful and damaging as someone talking like my pain and struggle has already been redeemed. Few things as painful as someone taking from me the option to grieve and process. Doing everything they can to support but in reality doing everything possible to invalidate and minimize the depth and impact of the experience I was living.
And none of it was experienced as love.