There is a lyric sung by City Harmonic: “Praise the Lord, when you’re on top of the world.” Then the next verse: “Praise the Lord, with the world on your shoulders…when it seems too hard.”
It’s easy to be joyful and gracious and filled with gratitude towards God when life is going well. But in the middle of long, dark tracts of hardship, it’s easy to forget to praise Him.
Today, as I stood in church, my head filled with images of terrorist attacks in Paris, we sang another song of worship. It reminded me that despite my being world wearied, light has overcome the darkness already. Jesus, with his love of sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes, the weary, the down-trodden and the broken, is restored. He sits at the Father’s right hand. He overcame death – and this world I live in, the one that tears at me and bewilders me one day, whilst making me smile and exclaim the next, is but a veil.
When Jesus overcame death for me and asked if I would know who he was, he didn’t promise me an easy this life. But he does promise a joy-filled next one. While the war of light over darkness has been won in the heavens, there’s a mopping up process here below. Where darkness still creeps in.
Paris mourned in darkness. And the rest of the world lit up in solidarity. Jesus is on the throne, and while Paris, and Lebanon, and Kenya and more in this world breaks his heart and mine, I’m thankful he’s not swooping down treading ‘the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty’ yet.
Because it gives me another day. To praise him and ‘walk the talk’ that Jesus is more than religion. That I can try each new day to be more like him. To invite someone to church who is feeling challenged by life and have them accept because, “well, Phil, you’re not one of those shiny, stereotypical Christians so maybe I will.” And when they come they learn love, support, hope and redemption and everything that is a million miles from the scary Christian stereotypes they hold.
So, after Paris, even as my heart breaks and I want to whisper, “Come Lord Jesus, come” for Revelation’s warrior Prince, instead I pray for one more day. And another. And another. Because there is still work to be done. People who I want to see in eternity with me. Who carry heavy burdens. How do I get to share the news of Jesus’ lighter yoke if he swoops in tomorrow as my warrior Lord?