Hi everyone, Rob here.
February 22nd marked the 4 year anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake that killed 185 people and devastated large parts of the city, including much of the CBD. The reconstruction process has been slow, hampered by aftershocks, insurance companies, government and council disagreements and a lack of vision on what the rebuilt city will look like and be like. Deconstruction can happen in a moment but reconstruction always takes time. This is true for cities and it’s true for the life of our heart also.
We’ve all known grief. Be it the death of a loved one, miscarriage, a personal failure, a dream that didn’t come true or the suffering of others, grief comes upon us unexpectedly and dramatically. Grief is raw, heartfelt and it deconstructs much of what we thought we knew about how life works, how God works and how our hearts work. For a time nothing makes sense. The things that used to make you laugh now make you cry. Confusion reigns. Everything seems surreal. Some people experience God as being very close yet for others God seems very distant. Some experience one then the other. Grief messes us up.
Yet the cliché is true. Life goes on. We wake up the next day and the day after and eventually laughter comes again. We start to become engaged with life again. But let’s make one thing clear: Time does not heal all wounds. I’m not sure that it heals any wounds. Time may bury them enough for us to adjust to life, but heal? No. Only God heals. The clearest path I know for the reconstruction of our hearts is to come before God as a broken, bloodied mess and say “here I am.”
I remember once just sitting with the song “Undone” by Mercy Me and letting the tears come as I sat in God’s presence with all the brokenness and shame that I felt at the time.
When I am overwhelmed
Holding pieces of my heart
When I feel my world
Start to fall apart
To the cross I run
Holding high my chains undone
Now I am finally free
Free to be what I’ve become
Running from our pain simply doesn’t work. Neither does hiding it, denying it or medicating it. Christchurch can’t rebuild by wishing that it was rebuilt. It can’t rebuild by pretending that it isn’t broken. It has to deal with the brokenness. Rubble has to be cleared. New foundations, deep and strong, must be dug. The new constructions have to be robust but also have sway in case more earthquakes come.
Our rebuilding begins and ends with the person of Jesus Christ. He knows our pain. He took the entire son of the world and all of history upon himself for heaven’s sake! He invites us to come to his cross and lay down our grief, our pain and our shame. He invites us to die with him, to come to the end of ourselves. Only then do we surrender everything. And only then can we be made completely new. Jesus takes that death and brings forth new life. He rose again. He conquered death. He makes the old new. He makes our hearts new and whole and good. But we have to let him. We have to give him everything so that he can be our everything.
Deconstruction and reconstruction, dying and rising happens throughout our life. As we keep putting Christ at the centre of our existence we deepen our ability to walk with him through grief. We learn to trust his healing process. We learn that through our grief and suffering he is somehow maturing us, growing us and making us whole and holy in his love. It is mysterious and painful and beautiful but ultimately glorious.