Due to my small physical stature as a child, bullying was a frequent menace. Even by the time I was preparing for confirmation as an 8th grader, my growth spurt was a work in progress. Two boys in that class seemed to delight in contributing a decidedly unspiritual component to my Saturday mornings. During one of those classes, our pastor left the classroom for a few minutes. I rose up, turned, and implanted the tip of my shoe into the kneecap of the bully sitting directly behind me with all the force I could muster. No words were spoken. I’d made my “point”.
Not exactly a stellar application of Lutheran theology- yet, a necessary step in confronting and giving voice to my pain, a realization that my own resources and out-of-character response were inadequate to restore wholeness and bring healing. I needed to deal with my problem constructively, not destructively. As I cried out to Jesus, He entered my hurting heart and lifted the burden that drained much of my internalized energy in a futile effort at avoidance.
The fallout from our ministry loss precipitates a bombardment of negative thoughts and emotions that direct our energy inward as we try to make sense of our devastation. With the psalmist David we plead to God in our anguish: “Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place.” -Psalm 28:2. As we honestly approach Jesus, a light begins to shine in the darkness that threatens to envelop us. Christian singer/songwriter Matt Maher expresses our quandary well in his song “Rise Up”:
“When you don’t know how to surrender
Cause your whole life’s been a fight
When the dark holds you and you can’t break through
Cause you haven’t seen the light.
Open up your eyes . . . .”
Psalm 121: 1-2- “I lift up my eyes to the hills-where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Make of heaven and earth.”