Things will get worse before they get better
By Mike Waine
“The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.”
“Things will get worse before they get better”
This was the message from the government over the weekend. Realistic and unapologetic.
As a realist myself, it felt like it could well have been me that had said it. In fact I’m certain I had already said it in some conversation or other. Thinking about it, I’ve probably said it in a number of different situations in the last year or two.
It seems to me that there is some fundamental truth, or at least a recognisable essence to that expression. Experience tells me that in life, quite often, things do get worse before they get better. There is a tension between our hopes and expectations that things improve and our desire for that to happen immediately.
The bible is full of stories of people for whom things get much worse before they get better. The Israelites (don’t worry, this isn’t another of my posts about how we’re like them…) go through the wilderness before the Promised Land and then exile before liberation. Joseph gets sold into slavery and ends up in prison before God puts him in charge over the land. A similar story is told through Daniel and his chums in Babylon. Moses has to flee Egypt for fear of his life before God sends him back to start the exodus.
The lesson of things getting worse before they get better is typified in Jesus’ life. Indeed, his death and resurrection are symbolic of this process – we see the disciples wrestle with this as they go through the process of grief. Jesus did his best to prepare them, as we see in passages such as the one at the start of this post.
So as we endure an unprecedented pandemic, social isolation and quarantine, one might think be permitted for noting that things seem to be getting worse. Let us not, however, make the mistakes of the disciples, who lost sight of the light at the end of the tunnel.
May we hold on, put our trust in Jesus through the storm of this season, and remember that things don’t just get worse. That’s just stage one.
Things do, and will, get better.
I’ll finish with a different expression that touches on the same point;
“The night is always darkest before the dawn.”