It ALL effects the Community

I’ve been reading A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss, by Gerald Sittser. Some thoughts have been coming through in regards to my interaction with the community… the village, in the midst of pain and tough decisions. I have been struck lately with how much my own personal decisions and experiences effect the community as a whole… I mean, they should, right, if we are truly engaging in the life of the village (or should I say “the kingdom”)? I have been hit with some huge decisions lately, that individualistically would be a no-brainer, but communally really have a major impact. Painful experiences should be the same, if not more so, when we are engaging in life as a village.

Two ideas from the reading have struck me intensely. Sittser says on pg 104, “I simply do not see the bigger picture, but I choose to believe that there is a bigger picture and that my loss is part of some wonderful story authored by God himself.” This I was saying to a group just last night about the decisions and community… and it is so true with pain. There is much comfort in knowing that there is a bigger story we are involved in. It helps with the randomness of suffering for sure.

The second thing that hit me was Sittsler’s consideration of fairness. On pg 114, he writes, “I dread experiencing undeserved pain, but it is worth it to me if I can also experience undeserved grace.” Both are a reality and they exist simultaneously… if there is anything I can offer the community from my own painful experiences, it is this reminder and this living out of grace and mutual pain-bearing. We must experience it to know it, and if I can offer an experience through the work of the Spirit in my life, the community may know that God offers it even more.

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One thought on “It ALL effects the Community”

  1. Nate, thanks for sharing. I love hearing about books people are reading, especially you. I wrote a poem called “Us” that talks about sharing that pain in community. Check on my blog or f/b. Another book that incredibly changed my view on suffering and prayer and broke a lot of “Christianeze” thoughts in my head is When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner. Some of his theological views are a little distorted but overall, it’s amAAAzing. One of the most prfound things I learned is how so many things we say, think, etc. as Christians when others/we ourselves are suffering are so messed up. Like when someone survives an accident for example, I have been guilty of thinking, “God really had a plan for their life. That’s why they were spared.” What about everyone else who gets prayed for just as much and are not “spared.” It’s easy to become more cynical after reading this book, BUT also much more empathetic. Because as I TRULY believe, God doesn’t “will” for any of us to suffer nor is it in his “plan.” (We’ve grown up with all these terms and they kind of make me sick!) Rather, God’s plans are higher than our own and sometimes the answer is simply, I don’t know. And we have to choose to believe God’s love is not bestowed on people differently based on how much tragedy, etc. they experience. And as Kushner says, “What if things just happen for no reason?” Sorry for the rambling, but this idea of suffering as a community is a very passionate subject for me. Check out the book if you haven’t already!!!! LOVE YOU. BTW thanks for the response to my email. You were practically 100% right in your observations. It meant a lot that you took the time to really read and respond. Did Kat read it too? *Hugs* Can’t wait to see you guys!

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