Sunday, April 18, 2010

Meekness in Grieving

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made the bold, counter-intuitive claim, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4. In the very next verse, Jesus makes a claim that is perhaps even more counter-intuitive. He says, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5.
“Meekness” is defined by Webster’s College Dictionary as, “humbly patient or docile, as under provocation from others.” Jesus himself, being under the direction of His Father, is the personification of meekness. Rather than fighting for what He “deserved,” Jesus went to the cross. Jesus said to the father, “Your Will be done.” Matthew 26.39.

I define meekness as the ability to patiently and humbly endure all circumstances in the firm conviction that God is sovereign and is working all things together for our good. In a recent article in Christianity Today, Carolyn Arends writes about how to be meek. She says, “It isn’t the experience of being misunderstood (or suffering or poverty) itself that will undue us, but rather the sense that we are enduring hardship to no good end. …We discover there is no wasted effort or pain, because there is nothing that God cannot redeem.” Christianity Today, Feb. 2010, Wrestling with Angels, p. 56.

To be meek means that we live every moment as though God determines the value of each life circumstance, not me. If I determine the value of both my life, generally, and each and every life circumstance, then not every moment will be beneficial towards reaching our self-determined goals. To the extent that I kick and scream when things don’t go my way, or a stab someone in the back “to get ahead,” or lay awake at night scheming plans of revenge to someone who has wronged me, I live a life of self-determination. Self-determination is really faithlessness. If we don’t believe that God will redeem all of life’s trials, then we will anxiously guard every passing moment and life opportunity, because these moments will define our purpose in life. To the extent that we fail in claiming victory in each passing moment of life (as defined by our own, self-determined goals), then we will either need to consider ourselves as failures or re-define our meaning.

In the 15th chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul describes in great detail our promise, through Christ, of the resurrection of the dead—both our own glorified bodies and the glorified bodies of the ones we love. Because of the promise of the resurrection, we have victory over sin, death and the Devil. Paul concludes this great chapter with an application for how our future resurrection impacts today’s trials. He ways, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58.

But fighting the fight of faith is difficult work. It is with great labor that we must strive to look beyond our seen and transient circumstances to trust in what is unseen and eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18. I am living in Christ-like meekness if I trust in God’s plan for Micah’s life and legacy. I am meek if I trust that God accomplished His purpose for Micah in only 9 months. That God wasn’t asleep at the switch; that the pea in Micah’s lungs did not catch him by surprise. I am meek if I don’t live in bitterness towards God, towards others, or towards life in general. To be meek means that God somehow wants to use my suffering and grieving to develop Christ-likeness.

If Jesus went meekly to the cross, then surely I can go meekly to my son’s grave and be grateful for God’s blessing to us in Micah. I want to have more and more of the meekness of Christ, to rest in God’s purposes for my life, and to believe that no life opportunity is wasted. I want to have less and less of the attitude of defining life circumstances on my own. To the extent that I am meek, it is only because God has provoked my heart towards Him; With God’s help, I can rest in Christ’s promise from the Sermon on the Mount that, in Him, Micah and I will inherit the earth, together, forever.

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