Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ushers In The Pain

With this world’s financial markets faltering again, and with some people in religious circles proclaiming doom in the month of September, I am reminded that we are not here to avoid the pain of this world, try as we might.  We are here to walk with people, to care for them, to tell them the truth about Jesus, and to usher them through their days and onward.  We are The Ushers of this world, and we’re going to be needed.  I don’t mean the ushers that greet you at the door with a big smile and who help you find a seat and a classroom for your kid.  Not those.

The loudest voices of this world right now will shout about what we should have done to avoid this pain—what you should have done to avoid this pain—and how you can avoid it in the future.  If you listen long and believe it much, you will sink into a snare of despair that will falsely identify you as being of this world, and your only hope will be like theirs:  claw your way out of this pain.  Do whatever it takes.

But you are not of this world; neither is your hope, neither is your mission.

My finances are hurt today.  Yours might be, too.  The money we thought we had, we don’t.  We share that pain.  But let’s usher each other through the pain to the identity and security that’s never threatened and from which we get everything:  sons of God and life in Christ.  That’s who we are.  That’s where we are.  That’s what we have.  And that’s what works for us.

So do what you must with the stuff of this world; that’s important.  But you and I cannot get life, we cannot get power, we cannot get grace on the inside from the outside—by managing the outside.  It won’t work.  It’s a deception, and nobody lives well in deception. True satisfaction and effectiveness for you and for me is with Jesus on the inside.

Jesus feels our pain today.  Jesus hears the voices that shame us and falsely identify us, and falsely identify our security and our way to it.  And Jesus ushers us through it, empowering us, gracing us to usher others too. 

Here’s a big chunk of scripture that has influenced and affected me many times:

2 Corinthians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

So on you go, ushers in this world, ushers in the pain.  Usher on, my friends.

(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “Ushers In The Pain,” and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video, scroll down this page, or click http://youtu.be/qRj8Pcdoegw.)

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