Friends, today we continue with our message series, Recover - Hope After Trauma. Last week we took some time to look into the various meanings of trauma, noting especially that the time we spent dealing with COVID surely constituted some trauma for many of us. But we move forward. In fact, today’s second reading from Paul to the Corinthians tells us:
Brothers and sisters:
We are always courageous,
although we know that while we are at home in the body
we are away from the Lord,
for we walk by faith, not by sight.
Yet we are courageous ...
It’s this courage that spurs us on to recovery. But what is recovery? The other night I had the TV on and the opening scene from the show FBI had one of the characters say these words:
Recovery is all about surrender ... and the end result is power!
These words are so true, recovery is about surrender ... and the end result is power. As believers we are called to surrender, but surrender does not mean to give up. It means that after we have done our very best, worked ourselves using all our gifts and resources, that we ultimately surrender to the love, mercy and presence of God ... and it’s in our relationship with God that we find power!
Its interesting that when you google the word “recovery” you find so many resources that direct one to recovery from addiction ...
Addiction to alcohol
Addiction to sex and pornography
Addiction to drugs
Addiction to cigarettes
Addictions are so prevalent that according to the National Institutes on Drug Abuse, approximately 22.7 million Americans, or 8.6 % have an addiction to drugs or alcohol. And surely the stress of COVID made matters worse.
But there is hope ... and in addition to the medical and psychological resources, our faith also can assist us in our recovery ... from COVID, or any traumas and addictions we need to recover from.
But the first step must be surrender ... bringing an honest, open mind and a willingness to find that divine power that God has reserved for us.
One writer, on the darkest day of his soul’s journey said this:
I could die in addiction
I could live in recovery
Let’s decide that we will live, live in recovery ... live in hope ... live under the safety of that majestic cedar that the prophet Ezekiel speaks of today.
While there are many spiritual principles that can help us in our recovery and find a firmer rootedness in hope, here are 5:
1. Acceptance - many times in our day, and many times in our lives, things may not go as planned. Practice acceptance. That cliche sums it all up, it is what it is. Don't make it bigger than what it is!
2. Honesty - practicing honesty is pretty straight forward. Practicing honesty challenges us to tell the truth, not cover up, exaggerate or sugar coat the truth, and not to leave anything out. And telling the truth starts with telling the truth to ourselves. What are the traumas we face? How has COVID affected me? What am I gonna do about it?
3. Patience - patience is not only an advent virtue. We have become a people always moving in the fast lane and technology has only made it worse. Breathe ... exhale ... surrender. The traumas of our lives will not simply be erased ... finding comfort will take time, so be patient.
4. Integrity - integrity is honesty with a strong set of morals. We are called to practice integrity by not compromising our virtues, even when the temptation is strong, so strong its palpable.
5. Self-discipline - self discipline challenges us to be a good person even when no one else is looking. It’s the interior development of our character and the fine tuning of our souls.
The Gospel today tells us the story of the farmer scattering the seed over the land. And that seed grows, little by little, night and day, despite the farmer not knowing how. But ultimately, that little seed sprouts and grows and bears fruit, good fruit for the harvest.
So too must it be with us ... as we work to recover, to find hope after trauma, we put into place life-giving spiritual principles, not as magic incantations, but as practices that guide our lives, our everyday, ordinary lives ... Then, and only then, will we not only recover and find hope after trauma, we will truly experience the kingdom of God.