Is that true?
Does misery really love company, as the old cliché goes?
During this Coronavirus crisis, I’m hearing that it does. That it’s true. That people either feel worse for being alone and out of touch, or else they are taking comfort in knowing that we’re all in this together. Those who tell themselves I’m all alone now may feel worse. Those who tell themselves I’m in good company now may feel better.
Indeed there are many in these days who are feeling absolutely overwhelmed personally. For lack of outside support, they are left with the temptation to think they, alone, are walking some lonesome valley of the shadow of death. They fear loss of job, loss of home, loss of family, and even loss of breath -- literally! Their anxiety levels are through the roof about now. Their misery craves the company of an employer and indeed a government that will stand with them and fight with them. And, unless I totally misunderstand others’ sufferings, they crave a hand up in these times rather than a hand out.
With that in mind, let’s divert our thinking for the time being to this season the Christian Church calls Lent. If you happen to consider yourself a Christian, or even if you don’t, please consider two options that come with a belief that Jesus Christ lived and then died a death meant for political troublemakers in the State of ancient Rome.
One option for the Christian during Lent is to consider Christ’s death on the cross as a kind of cosmic hand out. A one-time grant. Something Christ himself did for us on God’s behalf. Such an option was preferred by the biblical apostle, Paul, who associated it with the word “grace.” The Americanized version of Paul today would associate such “grace” with our personal salvation, as in God’s grace alone caused Christ to die alone even if it were for me alone. I call this the “it’s all about me” option.
The second option for the Christian during Lent is to consider Christ’s death on the cross as a hand up, drawing us all collectively up with him upon our common crosses to bear in this world. Not a one-time grant but rather one of those on-going grants that has its own set of stipulations (something most of us who’ve written grant proposals and received grant awards have long lived with in life). Such an option was preferred by Jesus Christ himself, according to those who have written about him in scripture. Never did Jesus mention the word “grace” (“charis” in Greek) in association with his death. Rather, Jesus used the word for “love” (“agape” in Greek) that meant giving a hand up no matter what. No matter how far down, a hand up. God’s love alone caused Christ to die with us. I call this the “it’s not about me, it’s about us” option.
It’s about our being in good company when we face our hardest of times. It’s about our craving a hand up. It’s about receiving a free grant but with stipulations we can meet with proper consultation along the journey. It’s about being in this together. Sharing the cross in common or community. About now "agape" one another as Christ has "agape" us.
Because misery really does love company.
God has come through Christ to share our burdens together as one. We still have bills to pay or to worry about not paying. Life is still hard. The future of Coronavirus and the planet we call earth remains uncertain. But, thanks be to God, who loves to keep us in his good company right about now.