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.