Wendell Estep has such an irreverent and wonderfully funny sense of humor at times. He once shared in a sermon about a tombstone which read, "I told you I was sick". It was just like a Pigpen style of living combined with Eyore from Winnie The Pooh covered with a melancholy spirit of looming doom. Let's face it and agree together, loss of any kind can be devastating.
Some people seem to get an even bigger dose of "loss" than others, they fight larger wars, they can appear to have greater enemies than others. In fact, when it turns into an avalanche one might can wrongfully conclude it's a problem of character or it's even deserved.
So where does MERCY fall into the equation of a quagmire? When you you extend forgiveness, grace and a gentle understanding to those who are in the middle of the battle of "loss", you will discover true grace.
The Bible has more to say about the judgement of others than the punishment for murder. Why is that? It's really simple, when we take our time, investment of resources and energy toward extending grace to someone who is facing hardships, you will not have a crowd around you, Did you get that? You will even be judged by showing grace.
We need a culture which is different. This "crowd mentality" which crucified Christ, which cheered in Roman colosseums for the persecution of Christians was absolutely wrong. The same spirit can permeate us even when a public figure has a failure. Its easy to mention a group of names of people you know, who would immediately fall into the category of "Well, they probably deserved what they got".
Please never give into this kind of "stinking thinking". Take time to find people who need grace, forgiveness and mercy and invest in them. Don't fall into the crowd mentality of adding pain to other's loss, but rather do something positive, reach out and experience a freedom in giving which far surpasses a critical spirit. We have enough folks who seem to specialize in this sin, so let us ALL work harder to touch "the least of these" whose lives are facing a truckload of challenging issues for their lives.
While I was completing writing about this subject, Coach Doug and Coach Bob called me from Mercer University and I had the chance to talk to them about overcoming loss. Nobody understands the power of crowd mentality, the pressure of a horrible loss and focusing on the hope of future more than two great basketball coaches. They have learned to focus on a promising future, the hope of getting better, the encouragement of those in pain and more.
Let us learn from great coaches who "believe" in a new tomorrow.
One of the greatest states I have ever lived in was South Carolina. This year, they have gone through horrible tragedies like the shooting in Charleston, the floods in Columbia but they have also learned enormous lessons. One of the players at South Carolina was talking about going into Irmo to help others who had lost everything when waters were higher than two story houses. He told about the moment of catching a winning touchdown, but he said it dwarfed going to Irmo and giving a $200 gift card to a fifty year old man whose house was gutted. He said watching one of his players hug this man for thirty seconds was one of the greatest highlights of his entire life.
So start being a part of the solution and just watch how you can improve a world facing a great loss.
In the Spirit of Sportsmanship