The front page news was a bitter addition to my morning coffee. The mug shot of a friend’s child was splattered across the top, along with the details of his charges and punishment. My heart ached for the family’s public humiliation.
And yet just a few inches below, another friend’s daughter had her picture published on the same page. She was splashing and enjoying a carefree day at the pool with her friends and family. It was the picture of childhood innocence at its finest. My heart delighted in reading about their fun.
The contrast between the two stories was blatant. And I wondered if the editor designed his layout intentionally. One guilty child serving time; one innocent child playing at the local pool.
To me, the more obvious story was about two children raised in loving families living in a parallel universe that appeared to be a world apart.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells His followers about blatant contrasts, too, by pointing out a parallel universe wherein exists the ongoing battle between good and evil, right and wrong, happy and sad. In Matthew 5, He promised His followers a future full of good if they are willing to acknowledge their poverty apart from Him
In Him, the poor will inherit a wealth of good; the sad will find comfort; the hungry and thirsty will be satisfied. In Him, evil is overcome with good. And those who are merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, and persecuted will find reward in Him– their true heavenly treasure.
These promises apply to our parenting trials, too. During the endless arguments we endure, the ongoing legal battles we fight, and the overwhelming grief we experience, we can find encouragement from Jesus’ wisdom.
The good news overcomes the bad news and guarantees Jesus will be our Comforter, our Provider, and our Sustainer.The good news overcomes the bad news and guarantees Jesus will be our Comforter, our Provider, and our Sustainer. Click To Tweet
If we are to survive in the parallel universe to which we belong, we must keep moving forward during our difficult circumstances. Sometimes that means turning the page from the cherished memories of yesterday’s childhood innocence in order to face today’s reality and the resulting grief we suffer.
At all times, we must love our prodigals exactly where they are– whether it’s in the middle of a guilty mess they’ve made or an innocent mistake that’s changed lives forever.
And it’s always best to forgive them before they’re sorry. Waiting for an unlikely apology robs us of our ability to move on. And it can perpetuate bitterness instead of healing.
These maneuvers will keep us moving forward instead of rolling backward on the long, upward mental climb that is laid out before us.
But when it feels like everyone’s circumstances are easier than ours; when we are burdened by the weight of the wait, and we see others enjoying progress; when the waves of sorrow continue to crash on the shore of our souls, and we struggle in happiness for others; when the charge is guilty and the sentence is long; when the suffering is public, and we cry more than we laugh, remember the promises Jesus made to us: He abides with us in our parallel universe of joy and sorrow. He is present in the good and the bad. And in Him is a future full of good for all the bad we have endured.
For now, when the bad news keeps beating us down, Jesus will scoop us up into His loving arms and comfort us in our pain, provide strength in our weakness, and sustain us with His love that mends our brokenness.
When we realize His arms are strong enough, His heart is big enough, and His eyes are sharp enough to see the full story, our public humiliation is rewritten as a story of private celebration with the One who understands the fine print and the truth hidden between the lines.
While we wait for our prodigals to return home bearing good news, Jesus infuses the parallel universe with a better headline that forecasts endurance for the wait and imprints our troubled hearts with His peace.
And when we grasp how much He loves us where we are and forgives us before we’re sorry, then we can move forward by seeing the bigger picture and letting Him author a better story.