Over the years of sitting at Jesus’ feet, I’ve found that the more time I spend with him, the more I am connected to his heart. And somehow, in a way that only he understands, I am a better person because my love for people and their plight increases. (Gray, Derwin “The Good Life” pg. 49)
Day 68 of Russia’s war on Ukraine. I was quickly put in my place after slamming the uselessness of the United Nations. Just days after posting how they have done nothing to help the people of Ukraine in this conflict, the UN has somehow instituted a ceasefire and is currently evacuating citizens from the embattled steel mill Mariupol. Even more surprising than this is the report of the diverse collection of people trapped in those steel works. Initial reports had stated it was full of resistance fighters, but as elderly women and young children were evacuated yesterday and today, it is incredibly obvious that this facility had become a safe haven for everyone who was able to escape to it. I must give credit where credit is due and praise the UN for putting this rescue mission together, and for the Russians to show restraint for perhaps the first time in this conflict as they are honoring the ceasefire.
Today marks the beginning of our study of Chapter Three and Four in Dr. Derwin Gray’s work “The Good Life.” Last week I spoke about how much I loved Chapter Three: “Happy Are The Sad.” This chapter really opened my eyes to Jesus’ teaching of “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”(Matthew 5:4). All my life, I have taken that teaching to mean that Jesus draws near the hurt and broken, especially in times of great loss and brings them the comfort, the peace that passes understanding, to help them through these periods of our lives. But Dr. Gray lifted the veil and allowed me to see the entire picture. Dr. Gray explains in Chapter Three that when we actively mourn those who suffer in the world, this draws us closer to Jesus and thus allows us to find joy in the simpler things in life. The mourning Jesus spoke of goes beyond personal loss, but walking in the sorrow of this broken world. While this may seem to bring you misery, the truth is, this type of empathy allows you to see the world as Jesus did. Seeing all the afflicted and broken, the lonely and lost, the hurt and sick, draws us into the presence of Jesus and the Holy Spirit and from that, we receive a purer sense of joy and happiness because our lives become mission driven to help alleviate any of this suffering that we can. And if you have ever done any personal missionary work, you already know how powerful and joyful that experience is.
Our world is seeing more and more sorrow every day. The conflict in Ukraine, the mounting loss of life from COVID, the global affliction of poverty, the epidemic of homelessness in America, the racial divide in our states, the scandals of the Church, the abandonment of the orphan and the widow. Mourn the suffering of this world and find joy in such sorrow as Jesus is the ultimate source of Comfort and Peace.
This life ain’t always wonderful, but as Matthew West powerfully sings in his latest single, it is still a wonderful life we live. Click on the image below for a compelling reminder of how blessed your life is when many suffer far worse than anything we will ever have to face, and their faith and conviction is far stronger than most.