The Grit in Integrity
That's not fair! That's what 7-year-old Sarah said when she found out my younger sister was getting married before me. In her mind, because I was older, I should have been getting married first. Didn't work out that way. Life isn't always logical, is it?
Last Sunday we considered how we grow up and operate (whether we're aware or not) with certain assumptions about the way life should be ordered. We believe working hard brings rewards. We assume attending to our health will result in a long life. We like to think that the promises given in a marriage will hold. And we hope our prayers will be answered.
That's one of the more problematic issues of faith. Why do some prayers receive a favorable response from the good Lord above and others seem to go unheard? Why was Hannah's persistent prayer for a child granted while gabillions of other women pray for the same with seemingly no response? It's a slippery slope and one we have no business trying to navigate. But we can't help ourselves. We prefer to understand. Being in the dark is uncomfortable. We'd rather have the pieces of the puzzle that is our life fit tidily together. But we're not ultimately in control. And we don't always like that either.
So do we stay steady in our faith? Do we continue to pray, staying connected to God even when God doesn't do what we want? Can we remain true even if we are hurt and disappointed? And when we suffer, how do we respond? Do we pitch a fit? Put up a wall?
I've come to believe that there are three forms of suffering in this life. One is because we're human beings living in a broken world. Another is because we make unwise choices and bring misery upon ourselves. And the last, and the one we likely know least about, is because we remain true to the ways of God revealed in Jesus the Christ which sometimes go against the grain of the culture in which we live.
That's the grit in integrity. Remaining true to something or someone even if it makes for rough going for us. Trusting the truth we believe in no matter what the fallout may be.
But truth is another squishy aspect of our walk in faith, isn't it? Geez, isn't everything subject to interpretation? We can probably appreciate the question asked of Jesus by Pilate recorded in John's gospel: "What is truth?"
Truth is a big deal in John's gospel. The Greek word appears more than three times as frequently as in the other three gospels combined. And it's something Jesus claims about himself (14:6) and about his purpose in life (18:37). He promises that when we know it, we'll be free (8:31-32). But can we hang on to it when we feel the rub with the ways of the world?
Knowing who and what to believe throughout this pandemic has stretched us, hasn't it? Of course, just being a human being among other human beings stretches us too, doesn't it? And then there's being connected in a church body. Little wonder the letter writer says clearly "Let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another." (Ephesians 4:25)!