This is my first week back from sabbatical, and in many ways it’s been a tough week.
On Sunday, my first day back, the team at SCC had put together some hilarious videos, sang “Welcome Back” from the old Mr. Kotter TV show, decorated my door, and in general made me feel very missed and glad to be back.
After the service Sunday, I went straight to the hospital, where a good friend of mine had been in a coma in ICU for four weeks; later Sunday evening he moved on from this life into the presence of God. This week another friend and SCC member is in the midst of a battle with cancer, and a pending medication change is causing much prayer right now. And now I’m preparing the sermon to preach at this weekend’s funeral while sitting in a hospital waiting room where yet another loved SCC member and friend is undergoing serious surgery.
Please don’t get me wrong here. I love what I do. I love getting to study and write and teach God’s Word each week. I love seeing the light bulb go off in people’s eyes as they understand, many for the first time, how much God loves them. How much they are valued by the God who designed and created them. I love getting to walk people through the waters of baptism and seeing them come out of the water, symbolizing the new life they’ve found in Jesus.
But there are weeks that are tough, too. And this is one of them.
Maybe there are people who can do this job and stay aloof, not allowing emotion to get in the way and clog their thoughts and minds. I’m just not one of those guys. I’m not outwardly emotional – never really have been – but inside I’m hurting and praying like crazy for these folks right now.
Leaders, you’ve probably heard it said, “never let ’em see you sweat.” In other words, don’t put your humanity on display – ride above the herd. Sounds good. I’ve done that before.
But Jesus didn’t do that.
When His friend Lazarus died, He expressed His sorrow openly, weeping. When He saw people oppressing and marginalizing the poor with their corrupt trading practices in the Temple markets, He got angry and did something about it. When He saw the crowds that gathered around Him, He had compassion on them.
It’s like Paul tells us in Romans 12:1-2. Don’t follow the example and pattern of this world. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Be like Jesus. Acknowledge when it’s a tough week. But know that your Heavenly Father loves you just as much as He does during other less tough weeks. He’s with you and me today just like He is every other day, just like He promised He would be.
Tough weeks will come. It’s part of living in a fallen world. Keep your eyes on the One who has prevailed over it.
How do you handle tough weeks?