1. Here’s reality, as my friend Tom would say – life really sucks sometimes.
2. Here’s reality – God is always here.

On Sunday, I went back to my old church, Media Mennonite and listened to Jesse preach (you can get his sermons on the website, and they are well worth listening to). His sermon was about repentance, and as he predicted, I groaned a little when I heard it. So much of the time sermons on repentance are about inducing fear and causing shame and guilt. Jesse’s was not.

Instead, he talked about how when Jesus called people to repentance (see Matthew 14) he asked them to turn away from their sin, and then he healed them. He didn’t leave them alone in the consequences of their choices or in the realities of life in a broken world. He reached out and touched them and made them well.

Sometimes our pain is caused by our choices, sometimes by the choices of others, and sometimes simply by the facts of life in a broken world. Whatever the cause, God is right there with us, reaching out to touch us and heal us if we will simply let him.

2010 was a terrible year for me, and today, I found out it was an even more terrible year for a friend. My pain was caused by my poor choices – specifically by my choices not to do as God directed and not to live fully into who God created me to be. My friend’s pain was caused by the choices of another person in his life, choices that are devastating for everyone.

I can repent of my bad choices and turn back to the path before me. I have, and I will turn back again and again. My friend, he cannot turn back; he is on the path. He must instead pray for the one for whom repentance will be so difficult and for whom he cannot make the choice. He must seek his path and see where it leads him. I am bowed over by his burden.

Yet, I take heart that God is with him, a hand on his shoulder, a whisper in his ear that says, “Keep coming to me and you will be healed. I am here. You are not alone.”

God's Whisper (Image from “When God Whispers”)