Colossians 1:11-20 (CEV)
11 His glorious power will make you patient and strong enough to endure anything, and you will be truly happy.
12 I pray that you will be grateful to God for letting you have part in what he has promised his people in the kingdom of light. 13 God rescued us from the dark power of Satan and brought us into the kingdom of his dear Son, 14 who forgives our sins and sets us free.
15 Christ is exactly like God,
who cannot be seen.
He is the first-born Son,
superior to all creation.
16 Everything was created by him,
everything in heaven
and on earth,
everything seen and unseen,
including all forces
and all rulers
All things were created
by God’s Son,
and everything was made
17 God’s Son was before all else,
and by him everything
is held together.
18 He is the head of his body,
which is the church.
He is the very beginning,
the first to be raised
so that he would be
above all others.
19 God himself was pleased
to live fully in his Son.
20 And God was pleased
for him to make peace
by sacrificing his blood
on the cross,
so that all beings in heaven
and on earth
would be brought back to God.
I imagine, what we want most is for the bad things to go, to not have to face them in ourselves or others. But perhaps that is not life?
So what Paul asks for are patience and endurance.
Oh Lord, I could do me with both of those. Patience when things go wrong, when things aren’t fast enough, when I can’t get any answers, when I wanted something different, when I’m waiting, waiting, waiting…
And endurance. To be able to stick with what happens. Strength to continue.
I am pretty low on both of those qualities. So the only place I am going to get them from is God. His strength to keep on going, to live with, to get through.
Paul suggests that is the way to true happiness. I’m sure it is. The only way to cope with life in all it’s little (and big) surprises. The only way to be truly strong. Not to spend our time wondering ‘what if’, or ‘I wish that had/hadn’t happened’. The strength to be.
Some people have had some horrific experiences. They are truly awful, seemingly impossible to bear. And yet, somehow life does go on. Never the same, but life with a new shade. Somehow, we manage to endure and find the strength.
I’m not trying to belittle those experiences, or offer glib answers – I’ve been to a few of those places myself and it is not good.
But the rest of what Paul says goes on to explain (if such things can be explained), how I learned to cope and to live again. Though don’t let anyone tell you grief and pain pass – they don’t, they merely change.
Jesus was God’s precious son. Jesus and God were together in the beginning, they made everything they had together. God lived and breathed in Jesus. And yet, God had to sit back and watch whilst his son was killed by those who failed to understand God. Failed to grasp what he was asking them and showing them, and felt the need to get rid.
God knows pain, excruciating pain. He knows how life can go, how different from what was intended, how far from the ideal. God, in Jesus, knows what it is to be human, to feel, to hurt, to grieve. God knows my pain, and he knows yours.
That’s how I can find strength in him.
Jesus took the pain. The rejection. The fear.
In doing so, he took ours too. He took my pain back to God. And that is why God gives me strength. Because he knows. He feels. He shares. He gives me his strength when I have none of my own. He is holding things together when I can’t.
And I need that.
Thank you Lord,
that you know me,
you understand me,
you care about me.
Thank you that you know pain,
you understand what it is to be human,
you didn’t shy away from pain
but took it.
Thank you for sharing in my pain,for giving me strength
when I have none of my own.
I give to you
and I receive your strength
This is still a song that can break me