Finding Balance in the Midst of Turmoil

As I sat in worship and heard the prayer
concerns I thought about where we take a stand and how we find balance as a
community of faith in the midst of so much pain and suffering?

As I sat in worship on Sunday and heard the prayer concerns, I thought about how we find balance in the midst of so much pain and suffering.

The concerns of the people caused me to reflect and to question. One family is homeless because their house burned. A nurse who had recently changed jobs has been stricken with a serious disease but can’t get surgical treatment because she’s without insurance. One woman spoke of someone she knows, recently cut from drug benefits by the state of Tennessee, forced to choose between buying food or paying for vital medicines. We had a missionary couple from Jerusalem soon to return to the war-torn Middle East. We remembered a family re-located from New Orleans struggling to get along in a new city and searching for new jobs. We heard from those whose friends are at the end-stage of terminal diseases, and from a sister caring for a disabled brother who spent Saturday night in the emergency room for the second time this week. We remembered people caught in the violence of war, those who are hungry and a whole bunch of others who are struggling.

It’s enough to make me want to run from the room. But I don’t because we also share joys and thanksgiving, and these, mercifully, provide balance. Similarly, the promise of scripture, music and proclamation somehow hold me in the room and keep the focus on redemptive and creative hope. And the outreach ministries of this congregation also give me hope. They seek to address human pain with concrete expressions of servanthood. So I stay.

Worship is, for me, that time when the drama of the human struggle, the power of community and the presence of the sacred in our lives all come together and the result is the recovery of balance and focus.

It’s easy to lose focus today. The whole culture is built on distraction. It enables us to avoid that pain which is not directly connected to our body or to our immediate family and friends, and sometimes, it even enables us to avoid attending to these. So, worship is both a healing and prophetic act, among many other things.

As I reflect on the concerns we all face, it reminds me that Jesus often spoke of healing and acted compassionately toward those who were up against the rough edges of life and were left outside the circle of those with money, power and privilege. Time and again, he showed preference for those who were the least in society’s terms.

I think this is, in part, why I keep coming back and why I don’t just walk out of the room when the litany of concerns is spoken. It’s because of this living example that God is in the human drama, not distant from it. And through some mystery that I’ve never fully understood, when we come up against the limits of our own humanity we discover that we are deeply connected to a power beyond our own. And more remarkably, when we verbalize our own powerlessness and pain, we become stronger. It’s paradoxical that when we admit to our human frailty, we discover strength that we didn’t know we had. And we find renewed strength for the journey.

It’s in worship in a community of people who are struggling with this profound reality that I re-learn this almost every Sunday. It’s in these faces that the image of God is projected. And it’s what keeps life balanced in the midst of turmoil.

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