Sometimes, in the ordinary struggle of daily life, we can feel forsaken. So much of life is just plain hard work. And what makes it tough is not always the big problems. More often than not, it’s the small frustrations that add up over time. For example, when we are overly annoyed by a spouse who leaves the cap off the toothpaste, we may be perceiving this as a sign of disrespect for us and our preferences, rather than simply living with someone who has bad habits, different priorities or simply forgot. Becoming overwhelmed by computer, copier or printer malfunctions may be a sure sign that we’re on the verge of burnout. The small stuff is taking a toll. Exasperated, we find ourselves saying, “Why, God, are you letting this happen to me?!”
Living with the setbacks of a serious or chronic illness can elevate beyond merely a struggle to a full battle. Patients and their loved ones trying to get through day after day of treatments and test results often wake up in a cold sweat at night worrying about piles of medical bills sitting by a checkbook that shows a balance of nothing. They wear the face of real human beings whose future hangs in the balance of decisions made in Washington. At times when they find themselves all alone and buckling under the weight of the world, they put their head down and weep. Their groaning relays the physical devastation, the mental and emotional pain and grief of the situation. Perhaps they are thinking, “Where is God? Why isn’t he listening? Why isn’t he doing anything? It can’t get any worse. I cannot any longer bear the circumstances of my life and the grief of my soul.”
This is where faith steps in. Those who know “THE story” know that another man, Jesus, cried out too as he hung on the cross, naked and broken under a darkening sky. Because he was forsaken and as a result of his resurrection, we will never be forsaken.
The emerging tulips push aside the darkness; their splashes of color shove the image of the long forsaken winter into the shadows. I know I’m not alone in feeling joy when the tulips bloom. And within a few weeks, the trees come up fully clothed, and blossoms appear to reserve a seat where apples will eventually grow. Tulips portray hope; months earlier someone dug up the earth, broke up clots of dirt and raked it smooth. They took some tulip bulbs out of their bucket and carefully put them into the holes, ensuring each one faced the right direction. They did so with confidence that in the spring the tulips would bloom. With the right conditions, tulips can bloom year after year, bringing joy generation after generation. In the spring if we are feeling low, it’s a relief to walk around the block to gaze at the tulips, new ones seem to peak out every day. And when we don’t have the strength to walk, we can get in the car and move slowly around the neighborhood or any park where we suspect they will emerge.
People of faith can rest in the confidence that this will happen to us too. Eventually we will all die and be planted in the earth. Because of the resurrection, like the tulip bulbs, God will give us a new life, and we will bloom. It’s a process of transformation rooted in our relationship with God.
And… we can all impact each other in a positive and uplifting way by doing the little things too. It might be as simple as saying, “I’m glad you’re here!” to a co-worker or “I can help.” to someone who is overwhelmed. Simple, random acts of kindness can make all the difference in the world to someone who wonders, “Does anybody know or care?”