“Dramatic depths of reality.”
This was just a small phrase that Tish Harrison Warren used in discussing the Psalms but it stopped me in my tracks. I don’t know what was going through her mind when she wrote those words but here is what I have in mind when I think about the “dramatic depths of reality” – death, suffering, celebration, brokenness, healing, success, limitations, loss, grief, injustice, forgiveness, friendship, crisis, hurt, loneliness, poverty, love.
My list of the aspects of the dramatic depths of reality can be experienced all in one day plus one hundred other dramatic realities. Many of us have had days like that, maybe even in the last year.
There is a statement that I have heard ascribed to people groups. The statement goes something like this, “The (fill in the blank) are like everyone else, only more so.” I like to apply this sentiment to my experiences the last 4 years, “The years have been like other years, only more so.” No matter who you are, 2020 and 2021 have been “more so” years. Years where those dramatic depths of reality have been blasted into our face. No matter how much our American culture works to push aside the darker parts of reality they cannot be ignored and they shouldn’t.
Where is God in all of this? Believe it or not, God is most at work in the dramatic depths of reality. Jesus, the fleshly incarnated son of God, experienced all of the “more so” moments. He celebrated over meals and weddings, he rejoiced in the works of his friends, he wept over the death of loved ones and whole cities that had lost their way. He was betrayed by someone close to him and received the ultimate level of injustice.
Jesus’ whole life was on the furthest reaches of the “dramatic depths of reality.” Is there a better line in scripture than, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” This is the good news that Jesus brings all wrapped in 15 words. Trouble and hardship exists and we cannot get around it, no one can. But that is not the end of our story, we can find comfort, we really can. How? Because of Jesus.
He has looked suffering, death, evil, loss, grief, and all of the other darker parts of reality and overcome it. He overcame it with his teaching which was beyond human wisdom. He overcame it with his healing which shattered the decay and brokenness that mark our bodies and minds. He overcame it with his resurrection which is the final human reality, but not for Christ.
When we follow Jesus we are not just adopting some platitudes that we sprinkle on our lives to try to make them tolerable; we are injecting his life into ours so that we too can ultimately overcome the world. To be raised with him and share in his glory. This is the promise for the Christian and no depths of reality or “more so” moments can change that fact. This is our destiny in Christ. Don’t run away from your deeper moments, good or bad, because when Christ returns we will remember all of these moments in order to relish what will become our new dramatic depth of reality – dwelling with Christ forever.