This morning I'm writing from Bradenton, where I'm spending some time with my brother, Geoff. It's not an easy journey at this particular stage, this wrestling with cancer. It's not anything like those Lifetime Television movie specials where everything is even and predictable and full with heartwarming moments.
Oh there's a lot of heart involved. And there's a lot of love. There's certainly warmth and family closeness too. But, primarily, this is nothing other than hard.
The scripture from today's chapter in my Lenten book - Reaching Toward Easter - really hit me. It was almost too pointed, too appropriate to this time of passage in our life as a family.
So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. - John 16:22
Joy is an interesting word. It really doesn't mean what we think it means when we use the word casually. But we're not using any words... or ideas... or emotions casually at the moment.
Transitions make for strong emotions. This particular time of transition may not be a candidate for joy, we understand that, but there is a lot of genuine peace around here and for that we are thankful. And it's the biblical quality of peace - you know, that "peace beyond understanding." And it's beyond understanding because there's no reasonable expectation of - or explanation for -any kind of peace at a time like this. But it's there, regardless, and this peace is as real as it gets.
And so whatever comes this week - and there's no telling - this family is going through it together, and in the context of a faith that isn't afraid of hard times. Not that we welcome this experience at all, not remotely... just that we know that we don't have to be afraid.
And now, because of our Lord Jesus Christ, we live at peace with God. Christ has also introduced us to God's undeserved kindness on which we take our stand. So we are happy, as we look forward to sharing in the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts... (Romans 5)