There are times when I get glimpses of the Kingdom. Those times when people stop arguing about the abstract and the unavailable and begin to see each other, in all our concrete messiness, our boring now-ness. Unfortunately, those Kingdom moments are often caused by tragedy. For just ten minutes, when we hear that someone has lost their spouse, child, or best friend, we forget about differences and are united in our humanity.
I often wonder why we don’t seem to get it, why we need difficult life circumstances to jar us back into humility and back toward the sobering reality that at the end of the day we are all just human beings who need to feel connected to other human beings. Why does my stance on any number of issues, be they religious, political, etc., matter when nothing is wrong but seem to lose significance when either of us go through trauma? Perhaps the trauma simply reveals that, though important, these debates and arguments should never diminish the deep connection we have as fellow image-bearers of God.
There is no difference of belief that justifies anything less than love and grace.
And times of difficulty, loss, and grief simply give us perspective. When we are confronted with a “theological enemy” who has just lost their child we get slapped back into reality where our quibble over whether or not the Bible is inerrant gets put in its place – at the bottom of what matters.
This is what I believe is the wisdom of that depressing old sage we find in the Bible, Qohelet, who says:
It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
for deathis the destinyof everyone;
the living should take this to heart.
I think we could all spend a little more time in houses of mourning.