Life can seem pretty vicious sometimes. As a church, over the last about five weeks we've had two major tragedies within our family here at Crossroads, and those are just the major ones. There's been a number of situations that have been equally hard for people but on Christmas Eve we lost Chris Becock who had grown up here at Crossroads, tragically leaving behind loved ones and friends and family having made an enormous impact on a lot of people. And just this week on the third of February it made the national news, there was a workplace shooting here in Vancouver, actually the first of what ended up becoming two workplace shootings because there was another one the following day. And one of our members lost his life in that workplace shooting before the person took his own life. We have people in our congregation who were in the second shooting - at the Veteran's Affairs; people in our fellowship who work there.
We struggle, at times, to try and understand these things. And I'll be honest: I'm one of many pastors here, and I've been around the block a few times, but when tragedy happens, I'm learning how to process it all. I hope that's okay. The idea of the pastor who has all the answers? We all knew that wasn't really real. So I'm learning how to walk with the Lord in the midst of tragedy. I'm learning how to show up at situations that are hard: what do you say, and what don't you say?
What I've learned over the years, and what we are learning as a community right now, is not only how you live with tragedy, but how you have a life that blossoms and is fruitful when the circumstances of life leave us wounded, broken, and hurt. How do we do that? We live in a culture that does not have the emotional or theological wherewithal to be able to answer the big questions. So people grasp, and we all grasp together. How do we live with wounds and pain? How do we live with tragedy and not just endure life, but thrive through life?
When my mother ended up passing away when I was in my 20s, I remember I had someone say to me, "Don't let anyone ever tell you that time heals all wounds; that's a total lie. Time only makes those wounds feel normal." And that's true. When tragedies hit, those wounds never heal; they just become normal. You get used to having scar tissue.
But here's the thing: tragedies happen, but Jesus is real. I want to look at tragedy and to look at what we need to do in the midst of tragedy—because the Bible is full of tragedies.
The tragedies of the Bible
If you read through the Bible in a year, you're going to see that a tragedy happens on almost every page. Think: when Adam and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in Genesis 3, that was a tragedy. They disobeyed God, and they became instantly separated from themselves, from God and each other. Think about Genesis 4. You have Cain killing Abel. The very first family had brother killing brother. You think about Joseph: his brothers sold him into slavery and told his dad he was dead. There was the famine in Egypt, or the famine in Israel that sent the children of Israel to Egypt. Can you imagine that kind of a tragedy, where nobody has any food?
In Leviticus 10, we saw the death of Nadab and Abihu as they offered profane fire before the Lord, and they died on what should have been a festive day. Of course, you move into the New Testament, and you have tragedies like the crucifixion of Jesus. Imagine that: a man who walked around and did good, healed the sick, spoke the words of God, and took care of people was mocked, beaten, and killed. We have the tragedy of when Stephen was martyred in the Book of Acts, and the apostle Paul's imprisonment. That's me cherry-picking just a few examples.
The Bible is full of tragedies, but the Bible also teaches us how to deal with tragedy. The Book of Ecclesiastes talks about what goes on under the sun. Tragedies go on under the sun. They happen; life happens.
I'm going to take the word tragedy, "T-R-A-G-E-D-Y," and I'm going to give you one thing we need to do from each letter. There's going to be a lot of Scripture in here, so don't think that I'm not going to quote a lot of Bible. But I want to give you tools, because for some of you, recent tragedies are right there for you, and my hope is that it will help. For others of you, you've had tragedies in your past and are still working through them, and I'm hoping this will help you. For some of you, you've been blessed with a life that has been tragedy-less, but at some point, something is going to go down that's going to be unwelcomed and hurtful. As we always say, you don't run a race without first training for the race. So my hope is that by going through these points, you will have something to think about and pray about and fortify your hearts with.
'T' for trust
For "T," we need to trust. We need to trust God. I want to explain that, because I realize that in the midst of a personal tragedy, that sounds almost like a plaque—like, "Seriously?" And the answer is "Yes, seriously."
This is what I want to tell you: there is a difference between trust and belief. You can believe something and not trust something. There is an author named Frank Peretti, and I once saw a video of his called "The Chair." In this video, he had a chair on the stage, and he was explaining the difference between belief and trust. Now you can imagine if there was a chair sitting here on stage, I could say I believe that chair is going to hold my weight. I'm going to sit on it and that chair is going to hold me up, and I might believe it. But you only put legs on that belief when you actually sit down in the chair. It's one thing to say, "I believe it will hold me up," and it's quite another thing to get in the chair. The difference between belief and trust is that trusting is actually sitting on the chair and finding out by experience that it will hold your weight.
When tragedy happens, we need to trust the Lord: not just "I believe in God," but literally trusting that he can bear the weight of what we're experiencing. In order to trust God, we need to have the faith to commit ourselves into his hands.
One of the most classic, famous, oft-quoted, and memorized Scriptures is Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart / and lean not on your own understanding; / in all your ways submit to him, / and he will make your paths straight." The reason why it's so often quoted and memorized is because deep down in our souls, we know that verse has everything we really need in it, but we draw on those things in the midst of tragedy. So when tragedy enters our lives, we need to trust in the Lord with all of our hearts.
Think about what that means: it means the totality. If you think about what your heart is, your heart is the control center of your life. The information from your thoughts and from your body and from your emotions come into the heart, the center of who you are, and the heart makes decisions. When Proverbs says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart," it's saying completely and thoroughly thrust yourself into the chair of who the Lord is, knowing he can handle your tragedy. It says, "Lean not on your own understanding." So don't sit in there with your hands on the floor and your feet on the floor, holding yourself up, pretending like you're sitting, but literally take your hands and feet off and trust the chair has everything you need. In tragedy, we need to trust. Why? Because in our ways, when we acknowledge him, he will lead us.
See, the problem with the way our culture deals with tragedy is oftentimes it gives us a set of steps to take that leave us worse off afterwards. Look at the way our government makes decisions—the proportioned response. That's revenge killing with a little mercy mixed in, maybe. I get there are political ramifications, but that's the way we learn how to deal with things. If someone hurts you, hurt them worse, or don't hurt them as badly, because you're a nice person.
But the Bible teaches something completely different. If we completely place our lives in our hearts, entrusting the Lord, completely not trusting in what we believe or could do, and when we acknowledge him in our ways, he'll say, "Take that step." We need to learn how to trust the Lord.
'R' for 'repent'
After "T" in "tragedy" comes "R": repent. We need to repent.
You're like, "Great. We need to repent." Let me explain this to you. "Repent" is a biblical word; it's a church word. If you actually read the gospels, it's the first word of the gospel. The first words out of Jesus' mouth in public ministry are "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near" (Matt. 4:17).
Now, when I heard the word "repent"—especially as I was coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, I always thought of some guy with too much facial hair standing on a milk carton, frothing at the mouth, yelling at everybody: "Repent, repent, you're going to hell." For a lot of people, when they hear that word "repent," that's what they think. They think of some guy who needs to probably take a pill and get a little sensitivity training frothing at the mouth.
But repentance is a word that literally means "to bring back together." It's a word of relationship. It means you're running from a relationship. You've strayed—come home. It's not an angry word; it's a word of love. It's saying, "Come back."
The reason we need to repent, you and I, is because when we are confronted with tragedy—whether it's somebody shooting somebody or something else—we think, "Man, murder." But then you think of what Jesus said in Matthew 5: that if you hate your brother without a cause, you've murdered him in your heart. We can't imagine taking a firearm and going somewhere and actually shooting somebody, but we all understand what it's like to hate somebody. Jesus explains that at the root of our actions is the disposition of our hearts. Every absurd thing that could happen to somebody, every tragedy that could be perpetrated, we have solidarity with that same disposition of rebellion in our hearts. We might never do it—we might never do those things—but we understand the root causes of it because what is in any person is in all of us. It's easy, in the midst of tragedy, to figure out who we are going to blame, how we are going to show them they're wrong, when really what we need to do instead of lashing out is look within, by the Holy Spirit, and say, "God, I have the same roots in my heart—so God, change me."
Doesn't that change a tragedy? You start saying, "I'm not going to lash out, but I'm going to look within my own heart, and I know what I'm going to find. I have the same stuff in me. I have the same bitterness and hatred, the same whatever in my heart." When we view tragedies, it gives us an opportunity to take stock of who we are. When tragedy happens, you remember that life is short. You can't put off for tomorrow fixing what you can fix today.
After my mother passed away, I remember asking my father, "Dad, do you have any regrets?" He said, "You know, I do. I do have a regret." I said, "What was that?" He said, "You know, I didn't tell your mom I loved her as much as I did. And now, I'll never get the chance." As God has brought my father another helpmate, it's amazing how different he is with her because he learned that you can't undo what's already been done.
We need to repent. When we are confronted with tragedy, we need to look at our hearts and say, "If this is my last day, how do I want it to go? What do I want to say? Do I really want to fight about that? Do I really want to let that be the last thing I'm known for? Do I really want that thought to be the last thing I say to the world on Facebook? Is that really who I want to portray to the world?" You know what happens when you start thinking that way? You start changing. Because you start saying, "I don't want to be that person, and if that's my last day, that would be the worst representation of where I'm really at." You say, "Well, if that's the worst representation of where I'm really at, then why am I that way today?"
That's why not only do we need to trust God, but we need to repent: we need to come back and return to the relationship God has for us in Christ. We need to say, "God, purify my life. I want to respond to you, God. I want to draw close to you. I don't want that to be the testimony of who I am. Yeah, Lord, I'm growing, but God, I want this life—if this is my last day—to be beautiful, to be loving and kind and grace-filled and joyful."
'A' for 'accept'
"T-R-A": we need to accept our new situation. I think one of the hardest things we have to do as humans is accept circumstances we didn't choose—to say, "This is what is now." But we need to accept.
When I think of tragedy, I think of Job. Job had a great life. Everything about his life was amazing. He had an amazing family, he had resources, and there was a lot of love. But in a quick series of events, Job lost everything. He lost his homes, his resources, his kids. Listen to Job 2:7-8: "So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes."
Think about it: Job has lost everything, and now he loses his health. He's got boils, and he has a piece of clay that he is scraping the sores on his body with while he sits in ashes. Job was a complete riches-to-rags story very quickly. To make matters worse, in verse nine, Job's wife asks him, "Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!'" That's a horrible thing to say, right? She says it like, "Are you still going to be a man of integrity? Look at you. Just curse God and die."
How many of us are Job's wife sometimes—just pouring meanness into people's pain? There are so many things she could have said to bring encouragement, and she doesn't come up with any of them. She's like, "Just tell God off and die." We've got to be careful, don't we? It's so easy to be like, "Oh, Job's wife. I could make a lot of good 'Job's wife' jokes." But how often—when somebody needs a shoulder to cry on or needs a friend—we show up with some terrible things to be said?
But listen to what Job says: "'You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?' In all this, Job did not sin in what he said" (Job 2:10). See, Job didn't understand what was going on, but he trusted God. He said, "If God can bless me, shall I not accept adversity as well?"
Have we ever been promised a life that is going to be free from any sort of hardship? Has anybody ever had that promised to them? Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). Jesus says, "Listen, life is going to be hard, but I'm going to be with you. I'm going to walk with you, and my presence is going to be with you in the midst of struggle and trial."
One of the things we need to do in the midst of tragedy is learn how to accept the season of life we are in. We saw that in the beginning of Ecclesiastes 3: under heaven, there are seasons for everything. There is a time to mourn and there is a time to dance, there is a time to embrace and there is a time to stop embracing. Under heaven, all sorts of things are going to happen, and we have to learn how to accept that reality. That's why Jesus would say, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me" (Matt. 16:24).
Jesus is saying, "If you want to be my disciple, if you want to learn from me, you have to accept that you are not God." You have to deny your view of how your life is going to go. You have to take up your cross, which means you have to be continually in the process of dying so that we can follow him. That is Discipleship 101: saying, "God, not my will but yours be done. God, I don't have control over certain things, so I'm going to deny my desire to control everything, and I'm going to trust you as I follow you."
Accepting the reality of tragedy is not easy, is it? How many of us deal with tragedy by pretending it didn't happen, finding ways to look past it? One of the things I've found in my own life is that the only way is to go through it. There is no way around it. We've all tried in tragedy, haven't we? We've tried to find ways to not accept it. A lot of us use all sorts of numbing tactics, whether they be drugs or alcohol, prescription medication, sexuality, sins of all sorts, excessive entertainment, or excessive shopping. They're the things we do to try and get around what we can only go through. Part of it is accepting that this is going to be a rough road: "I've lost a loved one, I've lost things. But God, you've given me good things in life. Shall I not expect adversity as well?" Not only do we need to trust, and not only do we need to repent, but we need to accept what it is.
'G' for 'grieve'
"T-R-A," and then, of course, "G": we need to grieve. I want to give you all permission to grieve in tragedy. The reason I want to give you that permission is I feel that, as a Christian, the church sometimes is the worst place to grieve because well-meaning people make you feel bad because you're grieving.
But it's so easy to forget the shortest verse in your Bible, John 11:35: "Jesus wept." Where did Jesus weep? At the tomb of Lazarus. Now think about this: Jesus knew Lazarus was sick, and he didn't go. He told his disciples, "We're not going yet." Then when it was time to go, he said, "Look, Lazarus is dead, but I go to wake him up." Because he says that, his disciples think, "Oh, you know, if he's sleeping, then he will get better." But Jesus says, "No, he's dead, but I'm going to go resurrect him from the dead." So Jesus goes there late, knowing Lazarus is dead and has been in the tomb, and he's going to go resurrect him bodily from the dead. When he gets to the tomb, he talks to Mary, he talks to Martha, everybody's crying, and what does Jesus do? He weeps.
You need to grieve. You need to. Let me explain to you why you need to grieve: because you love, and when love is lost, grief is the only proper human response. I've said it a million times, and I'll say it a million more times: God did not send Jesus to make us inhuman, or superhuman. He came to make us truly human, and part of being truly human is loving somebody enough to grieve when they are no longer there. We grieve because we love. God never created us for death; God created us to live forever. Death was never part of God's original intention for humanity, so every time—every single time we are confronted with it—it is abnormal for us.
But here's the thing about grief. I'm going to quote the apostle Paul, who says, "Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him" (1 Thess. 4:13-14).
Now, notice what he says: "We do not want you to be uninformed … so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope." This is the thing: there is a way to grieve that has no hope, then there is a way to grieve that is hope-laden. For the people of God, for those who trust in Jesus, we learn how to grieve as one who has hope that this life is not all there is, that this time—whether it's 20 years or 10 years or 3 months or 100 years—is not all that life is. We were created and will live eternally; it's just a matter of where and why. In our grieving for people whom we have lost, we don't grieve as those who have no hope. We're going to see them again in glory, and we are going to miss them until we see them again, but we are going to see them again. They are going to look great, and we are going to look great. But this life is not all there is.
In our grief, we realize there is a separation, and separation hurts, and we wouldn't have chosen it—but this is not all there is. We believe in a resurrection from the dead. We believe in eternal life in Christ for those who believe, and we know there is going to come a day when everyone is going to be back together again. We have to learn how to break camp until that day comes. We have to learn how. We need to grieve, but not as those who have no hope.
'E' for 'embrace'
So "T-R-A-G," and then "E." We need to embrace. By saying we need to embrace, we need to embrace life as it is presently, not as what it used to be. We need to embrace our experiences on this side of tragedy as the new normal.
Remember how I said we need to accept it? There is a difference between accepting it and embracing it, isn't there? Acceptance is "I am going to endure this." Embracing it is "I'm going to flourish in this." And that's a huge difference.
Now I'm here to tell you this: for those of you who have lost loved ones, you do not honor the people you love by white-knuckling the rest of your life. You don't. They are not looking down from heaven saying, "You should not have fun because I'm not there." They don't do that. They want you to blossom in the midst of tragedy.
I'll never forget when my mother passed away and I spent three hours lying in bed. I pulled the covers over my head. I was like, "Forget this. If this is what life is, I don't want any." After about three hours, I could hear my mom in my ear, saying, "What are you doing?" My mom was all Italian, a strong lady. Even if you didn't know my mom, she was going to tell you what she thought about everything. Kind of scary, you know? Everyone I met said, "Man, your mom—she's tough. What's it like being raised by her?"
When I heard her after she died, I remember thinking, Oh, yeah—I'm copping out. I'm pretending this is an acceptable way to respond. I was looking to just endure it. But I believe God wants us to embrace life the way it is. I believe that when God tills our life through tragedy, he wants to plant something more beautiful than was there before.
I once read a classic devotional—Streams in the Desert by Lettie Cowman—that spoke about a person who would sit on a fence and overlook this beautiful field. This person used to sit and look at this beautiful field, and it was green and lush, and every day they would go out there and love this field. Then all of a sudden, one day, they went out there and someone had rototilled the whole thing. They went out there and thought, What did they do to my beautiful field? This is horrible. They were mad about the rototilling, only to realize later—after it was planted and started to blossom—that they rototilled something beautiful to make it more beautiful.
In a lot of ways, tragedy is the rototiller. It takes something beautiful, something green and lush, and makes it brown and ugly. But not just so it's brown and ugly forever—so that it can be replanted and flourish more beautifully. If you read your Bibles and watch the way tragedy works in the Bible, that's what happens. God takes tragedy and he makes something more beautiful out of it.
You think of the children of Israel: they built a beautiful temple that was amazing and majestic, and then it got burned to the ground because they rebelled against God. Then, when they went back to rebuild the temple, the people who had seen the old temple thought, This temple stinks—our other temple was much nicer, much bigger. But the Lord said the glory of the latter temple would be greater than the former temple. Why? Because that was the temple the Son of God was going to walk into. God's design is that the latter glory be greater than the former. But we need to embrace life as it is. We need to say, "Okay, I'm going to go forward with a limp like Jacob." I've learned that God likes his kids with a limp, because we trust in him: because limps means that God met us somewhere. That's what that limp means.
Think of the apostle Paul and listen to what he says in Philippians 3.
(Read Philippians 3:12-14)
When the apostle Paul says he's "forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead," he's not saying, "I don't remember it anymore." He's saying, "I embrace what they've been so I can keep moving forward." Some of us in the midst of tragedy can never forget it, so we perpetually live there. That's not embracing it; that's getting stuck. God wants you to incorporate and integrate everything you learn through tragedy, but he wants you to push forward and embrace the next step.
'D' for 'defeat'
So we have "T-R-A-G-E," and the next is "D." We need to defeat. We need to defeat our fears, and we need to defeat the darkness that tragedy is and brings. There is a battle, I believe, and if you've experienced tragedy in your life, you realize that one of the ways we deal with tragedy in our fallen-ness is that we get dark from it. We get bitter; we get angry. We find ourselves lashing out.
One of the most normal responses to tragedy is to get apathetic about life: to say, "What can I do? I'll try, but it's going to stink anyway." That's a very common response, and I believe that—by the power of the Holy Spirit—God wants us to defeat those urges, to rise above them.
"Perseverance" is a big word in the Bible. It comes up over and over and over again. In the Bible, what you find of people who persevere is that none of them seem to be inherently strong on their own, but God shows up in their lives and empowers them to be abnormal to whom they have normally been. Look at Gideon: God calls him while he's hiding out in a cave and sends him into battle, with only 300 people, to defeat a huge army. This was a guy hiding out in a cave. When God called him, he was like, "No, Lord, not me. I'm the least of the least of the least; I'm hiding out in a cave. Don't you remember where you found me?"
It's a battle that God's kids learn how to fight in the Spirit: not with carnal weapons, but with weapons that are mighty in God for the pulling down of strongholds. This reminds me of Exodus 14, when Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still" (Ex. 14:13-14).
Brothers and sisters, in the midst of our tragedies, we need to defeat our fears. We need to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. You might be saying, "Well, okay, how is that possible?" I believe it's possible simply by asking: even in the quietness of your own heart, right now, saying, "God, I'm not sure about all this, but I need to see your salvation." David said in the Psalms, "I remain confident of this: / I will see the goodness of the Lord / in the land of the living" (Ps. 27:13). He is saying that with all the tragedy he's seen, if he did not believe he would see God move, then he would have lost heart in this life.
The same is true for you and me. We need to say, "Lord, please help me to rise above the pain. Help me to rise above the fears. Help me to rise above the darkness. I want to see your salvation, your redemption. I want to see your deliverance in my darkness. Help me to hold my peace and stand still and look up as my redemption draws near." In some ways, that's not the mark of the strong person; that's the mark of the person who knows they're too weak to get through it on their own. Did you ever think about that?
I'm from New Jersey, so people are very straightforward there. My friends would be like, "Man, I don't understand why you'd believe in Jesus. It's a total crutch." I would say, "Yeah, it is, because I'm broken. Crutches are appropriate if you've got broken legs." Jesus is more than a crutch; he's a wheelchair. He's like a medivac. I'm mangled, and Jesus is bringing me to healing.
I have no problem saying that I am broken and can't do this on my own, and I don't want to do this on my own. I wasn't even created to do this on my own. In order to make it through a life that is riddled with trials, I need the help of the almighty God. I need him, and there is no problem with saying I need that, because what you find are the people who say "I don't need that" and you see the fruit of what it looks like. We've all done it, right? "I'm going to do it on my own." Then you get there and you're white-knuckled, you're bitter, you're angry, you're mad, and everybody around you feels it and you feel it. God's like, "No, no—let me do it in you and through you. Let me do it." But we need to defeat that fear, and I believe God has already done it for us in Christ.
'Y' for 'yearn'
So "T-R-A-G-E-D," and our final letter, "Y." We need to yearn.
Remember I said that we grieve, but not as those who have no hope? Part of being a human being in light of the finished work of Jesus is to remember that we are citizens of multiple worlds. Our citizenship is here and it is in heaven, and we yearn to come to our final resting place.
There is a part of who you are that can't wait to be home. There is a part of who you are that realizes those we have lost are better off than we are, because they finished their race. The apostle Paul says it quite succinctly in Philippians 1, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Phil. 1:21). That's a crazy statement. He's saying it's good now, and it's even better later. I realize that death is scary because we have never experienced it, but death is the door that opens into eternity.
C.S. Lewis said it this way: "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find until after death … I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same."
I do not believe we should be escapists from this world, and here is why. I think the Christianity of the last 50 years says, "Let's just get me out of here, Jesus. Come back and get me out of here." I believe that betrays the life God has given us, because if God has numbered our days and numbered the hairs on our head, we shouldn't be trying to get out of here early. Say, "Lord, while you have me here, there is fruit from my labor. For me, to live is Christ on this side of heaven."
I don't think we should be escapists, but we also shouldn't throw out the baby with the bathwater either. We are here as many days as God gives us, but we realize we are only passing through. We are pilgrims, sojourners. This is not our truest life. This is just a chapter in a much greater story. There is that part of you and me that yearns to be glorified with Christ in eternity. I think of David in the psalms: "My soul yearns, even faints, / for the courts of the Lord; / my heart and my flesh cry out / for the living God" (Ps. 84:2).
In the midst of tragedy, we have to remember that our souls long to be fully united forever with Christ. We are united now, and we come into that fulfillment in the hereafter. We see now through a glass dimly, but later, we are going to see face-to-face. We need to take the long view: those whom we have lost in tragedy are home. Jesus told his disciples, "[I]f I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am" (John 14:3). Comfort one another with these words.
Brothers and sisters: we need to trust, we need to repent, we need to accept, we need to grieve, we need to embrace, we need to defeat, and we need to yearn. We do it together. We cry together; we weep with those who weep; we rejoice with those who rejoice. We struggle through it, and we fight through it together, and we exhort and encourage one another. It's messy. People are messy. Life is messy, but Jesus is real. As long as God has us here, he has a work to do in our lives. Let's let him do that.
Daniel Fusco is the Lead Pastor of Crossroads Community Church in Vancouver, WA.