Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Three Keys to Processing a Tough Summer

Colorado has been a place of tremendous unrest this summer. That’s an understatement, actually. Colorado’s Front Range has been the location of great tragedy; with lives lost due to senseless violence (Aurora), and lives and homes lost to nature’s fury (Colorado Springs).

So, instead of talking about baseball, grilling brats, and enjoying family vacations, many in our community have been challenged to wrestle with deep, deep loss.

How can a small group community help bring some measure of healing? Allow me to suggest three primary ways:

1. Acknowledge Pain/Doubt/Fear/Etc.
At your next gathering, ask group members to open up about their personal heart-level engagement with whatever tragedy has impacted them. Talk about your struggles with each other. Discuss your doubt. Share your fears. Be honest!

It’s not natural to watch a beautiflul mountain range burn. It’s not normal for us to witness our homes, or those of our friends, on fire. It’s unfathomable to consider the local movie theater as the scene of real gunshots, and the death of friends, family, and co-workers.

This stuff is hard to comprehend. That's why everyone must begin by being honest with our wide spectrum of thoughts and emotions.

2. Read
Then, after you’ve gotten to the core of your thoughts and emotions, take some time reacquainting yourselves with what Jesus says about the tough stuff of life. Open God’s Word. Read it. Together.

Start with John 16:33. Hear the words of Jesus. Allow His words to provide much needed perspective on our sin-filled world.

“…I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Jesus tells us that we will have trouble. It’s not if trouble will invade our lives, rather when it will happen.

After Jesus gives us an honest assessment of our situation, He offers us something more important—hope in Him! He has overcome the doubt, pain, frustration, anger of life in a fallen world where gunmen kill innocent people and where beatiful homes catch fire. Jesus has overcome all the sin and death that we can fathom. And from His lips we hear, "But take heart!”

3. Pray
How can we “take heart”? Through prayer. We can do it by a posture of submission to the One who has overcome. We can bow our knee to our Lord. The Lord of Heaven and Earth. The sovereign God who we don’t fully understand and comprehend, yet trust with every aspect of our lives.

We can “take heart” by bringing our collection of messy thoughts, feelings, and emotions to Him. We can cry out to God in frustration. We can whisper to Him from a heart of worship.

This is a picture of you and I living out our faith in community. As we acknowledge the tough stuff of life, turn to God’s Word for perpsective, and submit to Him in prayer.

God, in turn, helps us to begin to overcome the things that rock our world.

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