You’re watching your favorite program on television when all of a sudden, the news interrupts your show with breaking news. It usually begins with an announcement of some kind like “we interrupt this program for a special news alert.” Something has happened that is of such importance that your regular program is interrupted. Unfortunately, most often the news is not good. Rarely do networks interrupt their scheduled program with good news.
Life is full of interruptions. We find ourselves on cruise control as life is good when something suddenly happens that throws everything off course. A sickness, death, a job loss, a family conflict, financial trouble, depression, and the like interrupt our lives and leave us wondering when things will return to normal. These interruptions can heighten our anxiety, leave us fearful, weary, tired, and depleted.
In my lifetime, I cannot remember an interruption affecting so many people like the COVID-19 virus. Life as we know was interrupted on a massive scale in March 2020 and we still find ourselves struggling in the currents of uncertainty. Like a riptide that pulls a swimmer from the ocean shore and out to sea, we have had our lives pulled out from under us leaving some of us struggling to keep our heads above water. We long for the security of the shore as we are pulled out into the waters of uncertainty.
Yet, life does not need a pandemic to be uncertain. We all face situations when the present is unstable, and the future is worrisome. We know what it is like to lie in bed at night and try to sleep while our anxieties are wide awake. As people of faith, we sometimes feel guilty for feeling this way. We wonder why we are not stronger and that we should have more faith.
The night before Jesus was crucified, we find him in the Garden of Gethsemane, alone and in prayer. In Luke 22:44 we read, “In his anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling on the ground.” Luke tells us that Jesus was in anguish with sweat dropping to the ground like blood.” The dictionary defines anguish as excruciating or acute distress, suffering. This is the Son of God, face to the ground struggling with what is before him. If Jesus can feel like this, it would seem that we too can be honest about life when it is interrupted. Uncertainty and fear are simply part of the human landscape. Jesus once said, In this world, you will have tribulation.” (John 16:33) Jesus didn’t proclaim an unrealistic picture of life. Jesus knew that life would be interrupted and that there would be some difficult times. Yet, Jesus also offered hope. The rest of John 16:33 reads, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
When life interrupts we have to remember to take heart and trust that God will bring us to a better day. The prophet Isaiah would confess, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10) God promises to stay with us even in the interruptions of life. Regardless of what the news of the day is, we will never be alone. God’s faithful presence will watch over us. In many ways, in the coming of Jesus, God interrupted the bad news cycle of our world with good news. Good news that offers us hope for today and tomorrow. God’s divine interruption into our lives is ultimately what will make a difference in our lives.