"Resurrection power is in everything that looks like it's dying"
I said that to my spiritual director last week as I reflected on some of what’s been going on in me. I seem to be holding both sorrow and joy at the same time a lot more these days the older I get. When I was younger I was better at compartmentalizing and pushing the hard stuff aside to stay focused on the “good”. It may have been a coping skill I don’t need as much these days? But lately I’m finding it harder to push aside the sorrow and the sting of death that is all around us in this fallen world. I find myself asking God “how can any good come from this?” or thinking there is nothing that can redeem what has happened. Yet at the very same time, I also see God’s resurrection power at work bringing life to what is dead or dying. I see God working to restore and resurrect in the very places that death seemed to end the story. And somehow,
I am finding peace and joy amidst the sorrow.
Resurrection power is a power that is only be seen through death. There is no resurrection without it. You might be saying “duh” right now. But stop and really think about that. Something must die to be resurrected. And God is inviting me (and you) to be a witness to and participate with Him IN that resurrection power. As I contemplate new life from death, the verses He gave me at the beginning of the year in Isaiah continue to deepen and unfold for me.
“See, I am doing a new thing.
Now it springs up; Do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
Notice the word “IN”. One little word. Where does God do the new thing? IN the wilderness and IN wasteland. There is no mention of moving out of the wilderness or wasteland, is there? It is IN those barren, dry, desolate, lifeless place, the new springs up! Do you not perceive it? Uh, no, I don’t Lord. Or at least I didn’t until I began to look.
It was in my daily Prayer of Examen where I started noticing new life coming from what was dying or dead. As I looked back for God in my day or over a period of time or an event, I began to see how God was present in the places that seemed Godless before. It was then I saw a tiny trickle of life giving water in the dessert of my soul. It was IN the midst of the hard season where I saw growth. It was IN the impossible situation that I saw possibility arise. It was IN the midst of death and dying I began to witness hope and a future.
That resurrection wasn’t just happening around me in the physical world, but within me. As I continued to look for God’s resurrection power in the very things that look dead, my heart was being changed. Those places in my heart that were dry, desolate wastelands devastated by sorrow and pain began to see a new shoot of faith. The barren wilderness began to open up to new paths toward God.
The circumstances might change, but they might not. That is not the promise. What I hear from God is that He is the God of Resurrection Power IN me. And the Prayer of Examen has helped me “perceive” the new things He is raising from the dead thing in my life. It is through that prayer that He has shown me His loving care for me where I might have otherwise missed it. He has revealed my sin in a tender compassion and allowed me to confess and be made new in the resurrection power of the cross. It is through this prayer that I have found my tears of sorrow turn to joy as God has shown me the dead places in and around me He is resurrecting.
Where do you need to feel joy and hope amidst sorrow? What are you looking at that is dead today? Over 400 years ago St. Ignatius Loyola began to pray over his day looking for the presence of God. This became known as the Prayer of Examen. Below is a simple prayer of Examen you can pray to help you find joy in the sorrow.
Quiet yourself and become aware of God’s presence.
Begin the prayer by asking the God of Resurrection Power to help you notice His movement in your life over the last day or in an event/circumstance or season of your life.
As you review your day with God, where do you see His hand in your life? Notice the small things as well as the big things.
Notice any feelings that come up and talk with God about them.
If anything stands out to you during your refection, talk to God about it. Allow yourself to be free and open about any feelings or desires you may have around this.
End your prayer in thanksgiving, thanking God for any way you have encountered Him through this prayer.
You can find more information on the Prayer of Examen on the Resource page of the Art and Soul Ministries website.