Several years ago I had to go to physical therapy for my shoulder. I had “tweaked” it somehow and certain movements had started causing significant pain.
The therapist that worked with me was wonderful. He did a meticulous evaluation asking lots of questions about the difficulty I was experiencing. He then carefully explained what he believed was my issue before laying out his recommended treatment plan.
The problem was simpler than I imagined, but recovery took longer than I expected.
Over the course of those weeks, I learned a great deal about how “wonderfully complex” our bodies are and how challenging it can be to fully address even a small ailment that needs to be healed.
As I write this, we are coming to the end of an incredibly contentious election cycle. Men and women have been elected to serve at all levels of our government. The outcome of several races have yet to be determined and other candidates are now preparing to participate in runoff elections as well.
As we near the end I’ve wondered, what did we learn?
In response, it seems to me at least that what has been revealed over the past week is simply a reminder of what was already known.
We already knew that we were living in a culture of anger and division. This week has merely served as a reminder that many feel the partisanship within our political system is tearing us apart. We seem exhausted by the growing cynicism, and our current fatigue has been multiplied as we continue our battle with a worldwide pandemic that has turned our whole world upside down.
Alongside all of that, I think this week has reminded us of what we all know that we all need.
Like that nagging pain in my shoulder that encouraged me to seek a remedy, we know there is something not right about our current reality. We know what we need.
We need healing.
And at the risk of sounding overly idealistic…
Shouldn’t we – the church united under the lordship of Jesus – be uniquely equipped to bring healing to a broken and bitterly divided world?
Regardless of how overwhelming a task might seem, I hope we would all answer yes. The Apostle Paul says it plainly in II Corinthians 5 stating that God has given us, “the ministry of reconciliation.”
However we feel about it, God has commissioned us to this great work.
As I have reflected on this monumental challenge, I have been encouraged by remembering three quick lessons from those weeks of therapy my shoulder required.
First, healing takes time.
It will not happen overnight. There is no magic pill that will provide an instant remedy.
Second, healing requires real investment.
It will not happen accidentally, and will never be realized without consistent focus and attention. Skipping steps in therapy only serves to extend the time we need to heal.
Finally, healing often involves additional pain.
Perhaps this is what intimidates us the most. Healing a relationship requires facing the situation or circumstance that fractured that relationship. Confession is never easy and making a real commitment to living in a different way is even more of a challenge. Nobody wants to be the one to take the first step, but someone has to be willing to be the first to lean in to the hard work that healing requires.
And isn’t that who we are?
Isn’t this the way of Jesus?
Isn’t this the work God has entrusted us to do?
Isn’t that who we believe God has called us to be?
I hope you will join me in making two simple words a consistent part of our prayer life in the coming weeks. Those words are unity and healing. We are going to spend more time in the remaining weeks of 2020 focusing on those two words.
May that work begin in our personal commitment to pray for God’s Spirit to enable us to be a part of this seemingly impossible and desperately needed work.