Surviving The Waves
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.Matthew 5:4
When you’re swimming in huge waves, the best thing is to dive straight into them. You take a deep breath and make the conscious choice to go under the water, trusting you will find your way back up again. If you don’t, the current will pull you under anyway, dragging you along the seabed until it spits you out, battered, bruised and breathless on the shoreline.
There seems to be wave after wave to negotiate sometimes. Westminster, Manchester, London Bridge, Grenfell Towers. Poverty, injustice, grief, loss, heartbreak, disappointment. How can we face such a deluge without drowning?Maybe it starts with being honest and telling the truth about our own stories and the story of our society, even the hard parts. It’s so tempting to present only the best, most faith-filled versions of ourselves. It’s so easy to jump straight to an automatic ‘just-trust-God’ response. It seems so much more sanitary for everyone if we numb our pain instead of expressing it.But the Bible is full of lament and we do ourselves and our communities a damaging injustice if we refuse to allow people to feel their feelings in the name of staying strong, or having faith.
Even so, there are no easy options. Choosing to make yourself vulnerable can be terrifying. Other people’s anguish is a weighty thing to carry. Challenging years of systemic neglect and injustice is painstaking, difficult work. But every wave of the terrible brings with it the possibility of the beautiful. Relationships are formed and deepened; communities are knit together more closely; generosity swallows up scarcity whole. Tidal waves of suffering and compassion rush in together, inseparable as the salt from the sea.
Perhaps this is what it means to be baptised.
Perhaps this is the way to redemption.