No, I’m not referring to the recent movie. My concern is for those times when the “gravity” of a situation makes it hard to remember who we are and whose we are.
Some months ago, a person I know commented negatively on some of my work, and did so in a context where other people were present and listening intently to what this person said. At first I was just stunned. But the more I thought about it, the more injured I felt. What this person had said was at best a misrepresentation of my work, and not a valid comment at all. So the fact that he was influencing others seemed totally out of line. Yet any attempt on my part to defend myself would have been inappropriate at the time. I felt powerless and betrayed.
Later, as I wrestled with God regarding how to come to terms with this event and how to forgive my offender, I found the process much harder than I expected. All I could see was the injustice of the experience and how I had been wronged. Especially injurious to me was the damage done to my reputation and how other people might view me as a result of this. The only consolation I could come up with was that Jesus had promised we would be maligned and publicly discredited. Great.
Finally I asked myself, What do I need in order to move forward? That was when I began to see some light. First, I need a strong image and sense of Jesus being with me. I am not alone. Second, I need to remember who my people are; the people I belong to; people who are encouraging to me about my work. I have not lost all hope here, but only a small handful of possible listeners. My people care about me, and that is where I go for affirmation and comfort. I do not have to receive from those who fail me. (When I wrote that last phrase it really caught my attention! I was then able to shift focus).
When Jesus said, “Father forgive them, they do not know what they are doing,” he was not focusing on the gross miscarriage of justice at work there, nor was he ruminating on the injuries he was suffering. When he looked at his executioners he did not see their overwhelming misuse of power or evil overcoming good. He saw poor, spiritually bereft men who were so blind and numb that they had no idea what they were actually involved in at the time. He had compassion on their spiritual poverty. For Jesus, that is where the “weight” fell; and the “gravity” of the situation was their blindness, not what they had done to him.
It matters where we shift the weight to, because the gravity is really there, after all. Evil is awful, and it takes a toll. But where the weight lands makes all the difference. We can’t defy gravity. But by asking God to help us refocus, we can alter where the weight falls.