So in reading about afflictions…

Affliction is such a yuck word.  Don’t you think?  Affliction.  Doesn’t sound good at all?  I just googled it and did you know there’s an Affliction clothing line?  Why in the world would you want “Affliction” clothing?

The Upper Room this morning was on 2 Corinthians 1:3-7.  It begins with, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.”

I wrote about the race earlier and about perseverance and some of our afflictions sure do take some perseverance.  This is the first week of school at Winthrop and could arguably be one of our busiest weeks of the year.  We’ve been doing our thing here at Wesley and things are going pretty well – it’s great meeting new people and love, love, love connecting and catching up with our returning Wesley folks!

But this is tiring….and draining….and so many more depleting adjectives.  It doesn’t seem like it’s just student life, but everywhere it seems that folks are tired right about now as we all get into the swing of a school year.

I admit that at times I am frustrated – I can’t remember things I used to.  I am really tired and the typical adrenaline boost is not kicking in.  I just can’t gear up for this right now – the energy reserves are not there.  I also finally got the letter scheduling the next MRI and surgeon’s appointment – September 14th MRI and September 15th the brain surgeon.

I’d like to think that I can do this normal welcome back wohoo wesley thing no problem and the same as always, but if I’m honest with myself – it’s not the same.  I can’t run around like a crazy person and not feel those affects.  Humbling.  Frustrating.  Frightening.  Freeing?

We get so caught up in a numbers game – so caught up in how much can we produce?  Who is coming to Wesley?  How many?  Who showed up for church on Sunday? How much money is our company making?  What did we do today?  There’s such a focus on numbers and what we do that we forget to just be and that we don’t have to do it all.  I write that, but do I mean that?  Josh and I were talking about numbers and church/Wesley/what is the crazy thing called ministry stuff this week and I know that when pastors say we shouldn’t focus on the numbers, that can sometimes mean they’re just using that as a justification for the size of the body of folks that they work with.  But sometimes I really do question numbers…is that all that there is to say that you’re doing something?  Do we get so caught up in proving that something is happening at our churches or in our classes or in our workplaces or in our lives that we miss the blessings and consolations that God gives us along the way?  Or do we miss being those blessings and consolations to others because we’re more concerned about the to-do lists and keeping up with “that” family or company or church or whatever?

I wonder what would happen if we didn’t just feel frustrated by some of these things that seem to limit us or tie us down but we could flip that and feel the freedom from the endless search for perfection and the chance to claim even our inabilities, sufferings, and crud for the grace and strength of God?  I can believe that at the beginning of the day reading the Upper Room.  It’s harder to believe at the end of a day wondering where it all went and how the list never gets shorter.

Maybe we just need to give ourselves a break…

U2’s “Walk On” is on my itunes dj right now.  Maybe that’s what we do from all the things that can weigh us down – we walk on.  Some of our afflictions may go with us, but we can trust that God is with us and we walk on.

“Leave it behind
You’ve got to leave it behind
All that you fashion
All that you make
All that you build
All that you break
All that you measure
All that you steal
All this you can leave behind
All that you reason
All that you sense
All that you speak
All you dress up
All that you scheme…”

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