One of my friends is walking through the Valley of the Shadow. As I was listening to him share his heart this morning, and when the appropriate amount of silence had settled over us, this came out of me:

“You have permission to live the most difficult days of your life in the safety of our presence.”

That’s a summary of Christian community. We all need that permission from each other, permission to be where we are.

Some folks understand faith to be a rugged shaking-off of our feelings. Some people have been taught that faith means you ignore the painful realities in favor of a grit-your-teeth positivity. No, sir.

The life of faith is the life where the saints learn to play the long game with each other. If we do it right, the seasons of bottoming out in grief and overwhelming despair do not have to be seen as final but can be seen as stops along the way where we can build each other up in love.

Impetuous Peter wobbled in his faith and denied he had ever even known Jesus, but he didn’t stay there. He grew into the man on whose back the church would ride. Thomas didn’t always do it right either. Neither did Mary Magdalene. And neither will you or I.

So, let’s sign up for the long game with each other. Let’s covenant to be companions as
we pass through the Valley of the Shadow and our courses are being corrected. Let’s give each other permission to live the most difficult days of our lives in the safety of each other’s presence. And let’s do it until we’re able to look back and see the difficulties swallowed up by God’s deliverance.