An evil event became the occasion for the greatest good
I’ve been thinking about the role of the hard things in life, thinking about them in terms of love (Why does a loving God allow bad things?) and, because of the time of year, in terms of thanksgiving (Do we only give thanks for the pleasant things?). I’ve been thinking about the source and motivation for giving thanks. And, while it is seems absurd on the face of it to suggest we give thanks for what is unpleasant, on reflection I think we can recognize the importance and value of the hard things in our life. This is as common place as the weightlifter’s maxim, “No pain; no gain” and as profound as the claim that the only perfect human was “made” perfect — brought to completion, made fit for his mission — by the things he suffered.
In our own lives, we can probably identify the benefits of hard work and effort and the positive outcomes of temporary losses and/or setbacks. One of my favourite illustrations of this principle is the way the human body develops overall health, a strong immune system and disease resistance from getting sick in the developmental stages of life. Or, to again employ a truism, “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.” We also, presumably, have losses and setbacks that have only produced disappointments and scars, but these too, we are asked to hold in the light of the great reversal that the Love of God brings into human consciousness through Jesus.
In the church we inherited a Greek term, Eucharist, which means “grateful, thanksgiving.” In its constituent parts, the term means to speak well of a favour received. My challenge today is to think about those things in my life that I wish were otherwise, to accept them as part of God’s Love for me, and then to speak well of them as of a favour received — that is, to give thanks. As I endeavour to do this, I begin to see that this is much more than a case of “positive thinking.” Nor is it an instance of falsifying my experience, writing a revisionist history for my life. Instead, it is to begin to see the true nature of things, to get beyond the surface to the glory inherent in all things.
Jesus did just that when he offered himself — perfect human, made complete in suffering. for all of humanity — the event we remember in the Eucharist! He initiated the Great Reversal where death was “killed” through his death. An evil event, a grave injustice, became the occasion for the greatest good. This gives us an insight into the inner workings of reality, an insight that allows us to see the favour of God’s Love in all of life — the good and the bad — an insight that enables us to be truly thankful!
Rev. Oz Lorentzen is from St. Barnabas Anglican Church.