One of my friends is walking through the Valley of the Shadow. As I was listening to him share his heart this morning, and when the appropriate amount of silence had settled over us, this came out of me:
“You have permission to live the most difficult days of your life in the safety of our presence.”
That’s a summary of Christian community. We all need that permission from each other, permission to *be where we are*.
Some folks understand “faith” to be a rugged shaking-off-of our feelings. Some people have been taught that “faith” means you ignore the painful realities in favor of a grit-your-teeth positivity. No, sir.
The life of faith is the life where the saints learn to play the long game with each other. If we do it right, the seasons of bottoming out in grief and overwhelming despair do not have to be seen as final, but can be seen as stops along the way.
Impetuous Peter wobbled in his faith and denied he ever even knew Jesus, but he didn’t stay there. He grew into the man on whose back the Church would ride. Thomas didn’t always do it right either. Neither did Mary Magdalene. And neither will you and I.
So let’s sign up for the long game with each other. Let’s covenant to be companions as we pass through the Valley of the Shadow. Let’s give each other permission to live the most difficult days of your lives in the safety of each other’s presence. And let’s do it until we’re able to look back and see the difficulties swallowed up by God’s deliverance.