Ironically enough, it was almost a year ago that I wrote a blog post about a particularly difficult time in the Auburn community titled "Good Grief." Last summer, the city of Auburn lost its first police officer in the line of duty as well as Rod and Paula Bramblett only days before Memorial Day. It's an aching reminder that loss and sorrow can take many forms, manifesting themselves into things you never imagined as sources of pain. By this time last year, no one thought that the streets that were once lined with people for the funerals of our loved ones would be vacant with signs saying "closed until further notice."
I have never felt worse for our leadership at both the local and federal levels. For every closed business, there is a family if not multiple families that are going without a paycheck during a time when no one is hiring. On the other hand, every establishment that opens is vulnerable for a massive spread of the virus. As badly as I want my children to go back to school in the fall, I am reminded of the hundreds of children that have died from the disease. As badly as I want to focus on the recovery cases, I could not imagine being the reason a newborn baby or an elderly person became ill. Regardless of where you stand, let's all remember that we are to "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:2-3). Of all the ways Paul could have described the indicator of the Holy Spirit, unity was the word of choice. As Paul preached the gospel and continued to write the New Testament, he continuously talked about unity. He described a world that lived free from religion ruling the church because it breathed through the price that could only be paid by Christ. He didn't mean we would always agree or we would think the same thoughts. He described a place where our differences would not divide us because Christ came for all. Peace and unity are not possible without "bearing with each other in love." Division begins when we decide to put love aside because someone disagrees with us. Christ said we would be recognized by our unity. Would he recognize us now?
This message of peace and love regrettably comes from the same person that can fall into the division. Sometimes ingesting just five minutes of the news is enough to ruin my day. It douses my compassion for one group of people while overly victimizing another. Where is the unity in that? Again, would Christ recognize me?
There is unity in loss. When I wrote about the grief of our community almost a year ago, I assumed the unity I observed was an exclusive trait of the wonderful people in my city. Now, I am convinced that some of the world's strongest bonds were born in suffering. Suffering, if used rather than just endured, has an ironic effect. What seems like a recipe for isolation, depression, and forfeit becomes an enlightenment for those that are determined to use their suffering. It not