The world seems full of crises and uncertainties. There are threats of literal Biblical proportions with major diseases, famine, drought, societal disorders, and pestilences circling the globe. Any one of these challenges cause a lot of distress in our hearts and minds, but the addition of multiple issues stacking on top of each other is so much more difficult. It is hard to know how to respond as disciples of Jesus Christ when we ourselves are personally challenged by the same issues. One thing we know for sure is that God has a purpose and a plan for all of us no matter the darkness that surrounds us:
“We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28)
What our world desperately needs is a surrender to the divine mercy of Christ. There are prudent and wise tangible actions that people can and should take to address these challenges, but we must never forget that humankind is a unified body-soul composite. Our spiritual nature is just as important as our physical nature. That is why the Word became flesh (John. 1:14). Jesus fully understands the depths of human need in both body and soul. He is the only one who we can full surrender ourselves and our families to in complete trust.
When Jesus preached to the crowds on the Mount of Beatitude, he challenged them to not be anxious about their lives:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life?” (Matt. 6:25-27).
Later in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is even more direct and challenging: “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28). This is a hard teaching to hear and accept, but Jesus calls us to rise above our fears and doubts through His grace.
It is hard to accept sufferings in this life and the threat of judgment in the next because we often uncouple divine justice from divine mercy—the Divine is all good and all just. The two are not separable in God just as the narrative of salvation cannot separate the Cross from the Resurrection. As Christians we must be open to enduring suffering in this life, whether natural or of divine origin, because we know the One who can bring about redemption from any situation. Discipleship of Christ requires full surrender, including surrender to suffering. Surrendering to Christ is possible because the gift of eternal life ultimately flows from the inexhaustible love of God.
In chapter ten of the Gospel of John, our Lord proclaims, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). The Greek word for “abundantly” here means: more than; beyond what is anticipated; exceeding expectation; going past the expected limit. Jesus does not withhold Himself; He does not only give in part. Jesus lavishes gifts on His beloved. The life of the Word-made-flesh (John 1:14) gives over-abundantly. The image is one of a pot at the bottom of a waterfall, which continually spills over from the never-ending flow from the river above. Through surrender to Christ we paradoxically gain more than everything.
Through all of the challenges we are facing today we are tempted to lose heart. This is a very understandable place to be in. However, Christians have the hope of Christ. The Love that rose Jesus from the grave, is the Love that will carry us through no matter the cross to bear. There is a beatitude beyond comprehension awaiting us.
Cling to Jesus…cling to Jesus.