This week has been an incredibly tough week. I am a teacher, and this past week we found out a grade nine student committed suicide. My reflections on today’s scripture are completely colored by the grief and weariness of this past week. But in life’s darkest times, I find that the hope in Christ Jesus shines brightest.
Today’s scripture, Matthew 13, is the parable of the Sower. A farmer, who scatters his seeds around him. Some of those seeds fall on a path and are carried away by birds. Some of those seeds fell on rocks and had no soil to take root in. Some of those seeds fell among the thorns and were choked out by weeds. But some, some seeds found rich, perfect soil and took root deeply and, against all odds, grew strong and multiplied.
In reading this message, the question that surfaced in my mind is “Where am I rooted?”. I have no doubt in my mind that the seeds that found the “good soil” still had to go through some incredibly difficult circumstances. Birds still fly over good soil. The sun still scorches good soil. Weeds still find their way into good garden patches. The only difference is where those seeds were rooted. Because their roots went deep into something Good, something enriching, something live-giving, the seeds were able to grow and flourish.
This week has reiterated to me that life has pain. Incredible pain. Unimaginable pain. That is inevitable. The real question is, where have I rooted myself? Have I rooted myself in denial? Turning a blind eye to life’s hardships? Partying or making the best of life I can, hoping the good times never end? Or have I rooted myself in the imperfect people around me---depending on them to hold me up and help me grow no matter what? And then being incredibly disappointed when they fail me, or when what they offer turns out to be hollow or unsatisfying?
Or have I chosen to root myself in my faith in God and Christ?
Now, I'm not saying we shouldn't be optimistic about life or lean on our friends. However, there will always come a time when our optimism falters and our friends fail us. God, however, is perfect and enriching and life-giving. He is the only One who will never fail us. He is the only one who can comfort us and sustain us and help us grow. The communion table serves to remind us not only of Christ’s perfect sacrifice for us. It also reminds us that our God understands pain. He isn’t some distant deity watching us from afar. God is a person. A person who suffered. A person who, in his time of greatest need, felt the heart-wrenching pain of being utterly abandoned by everyone he knew and loved.
He knows. He understands. And he can help. Like a friend who’s been there, who can relate, Christ can take our burdens and help us grow, even when the odds are stacked against us. When we root ourselves in him, and in our faith, we aren’t guaranteed a life without pain---we are, however, guaranteed to have Someone who knows our very soul, who wants to give us peace, and who wants to help carry our burdens. There is hope in Christ. There is life in Christ. There is growth in Christ.