There is no doubt our society has had a lesson from the pandemic. It has revealed societies’ structural problems. We have encountered issues of poverty, racism, abuse of power, health care, and housing problems. The list goes on.
The question is, what have we learned from our lesson and are we prepared for the test to come? Jesus’s teaching in Matthew 22 points to the answer of how to pass the test. We should “love our neighbours as ourselves.” A humbling statement, a theme found throughout the Bible.
Humbling does not mean being submissive, but to be good listeners of others’ points of view, sharing our resources, prioritizing community over self and to serve rather than take. This is the opposite of our current rhetoric of “hate thy neighbour because they infringe on my rights.” The test will be to love our neighbours seeking salvation from physical and spiritual problems.
The truth is that all of us need salvation from something; to find hope for a better future. However, there is a problem not being discussed; it is the trauma our society has experienced and will continue to experience. Trauma can mean different things, but generally trauma happens when peoples’ abilities to cope are overwhelmed. How can you hope to love your neighbour when your own life is overwhelmed and in a state of trauma? I have read that trauma is a form of death, where is the hope?
Christians find hope in the teachings of Jesus. The narrative of Jesus’s life is one of trauma and grace. Starting with his birth, a crazed king tried to murder Jesus, and in adulthood, he is abandoned by his followers, he dies on a cross. One sees the trauma; one sees the death. The hope is found in what happens next… Jesus’s resurrection to life.
Jesus arose from the dead, but his body still carried visible wounds of trauma from death on the cross. The cross is central to Christian theology, for it is a symbol of the truth that Jesus, God himself, has suffered with and on behalf of humanity. Theologian Sarah Travis writes that the cross is helpful in supporting those who experience trauma, as “the cross… forces Christians to confront their own traumatic experiences… the symbol of the cross and the story behind it provide hope, assuring the trauma survivor that he/she is not alone, that God also suffers.”
We have a saviour, Jesus, who walks beside us on our journey.
Ernie Naylor serves as Pastor at Atwood Presbyterian Church.