Rebuilding, Reconstruction, Renewal. These seem to be the new three R's, the three new basics needed in the world today, replacing reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic.
If you're like me, you can't imagine rebuilding an entire country or city. But the underlying issues are ones that tons of people do face. Putting one's life back together after a job layoff or a death in the family. Recovering from storm damage. Figuring out what to do when a child gets into serious trouble or a family breaks up. Experiences such as these face countless people with the need for rebuilding, reconstruction, and renewal.
Just looking at what needs to be done can drain people's energy. Many times the best way to begin is to consider what remains sound. What is there to build on?
I noticed a good example of this in the news a little while ago. Looting was still rampant in Iraq, but in one area the religious leaders in the mosques were insisting that it stop and that people return whatever had been stolen. And their words were heeded.
Despite the enormous destruction that war has brought - the collapse of government, the lack of electricity and other necessities - the underlying spiritual foundations of the community were still in place. These religious leaders were able to begin the process of bringing the looting to an end and restoring moral order.
Before rebuilding can occur, one needs to put an end to looting, or to runaway fear and anger, or uncontrolled grief, or the sense of helplessness. Often the only way to do this is to reconnect with the spiritual center of one's life, to get back to one's real roots.
The apostle Paul realized this and shared this important fact with the church in Rome. J.B. Phillips translated his words this way: "Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble, pain or persecution? Can lack of clothes and food, danger to life and limb, the threat of force of arms?" Paul answered, none of these, and continued, "I have become absolutely convinced that neither death nor life, neither messenger of Heaven nor monarch of earth, neither what happens today nor what may happen tomorrow, neither a power from on high nor a power from below, nor anything else in God's whole world has any power to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!" (Rom. 8:35-39).
Our human loss may be great, the disorder surrounding us more than we can take in, but Paul points out that the essential feature of life, the thing most needed - God's powerful love - remains unshaken, unaltered. God's love is the force of life itself. Because this connection is never lost, the essential ingredient people need for rebuilding and renewing their lives is there. It provides the intelligence, energy, and resources everyone needs. The sooner one lets this fact register, the sooner the rebuilding can begin.
Many times the key ingredient for reconstruction is the willingness to admit that it is possible. Cities and countries get rebuilt because someone has the vision to see that they can be. People need an unshakable certainty that it is doable.
This is true individually as well. Admittedly, there are times when one looks around and says, "There's no way I can do this." But that's not necessarily a bad thing. It can make one feel a deep need for God's help. And that's good. It causes one to search out God's care and to acknowledge God's presence and power. It brings a profound change to one's perspective. Mary Baker Eddy, the author of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," knew this well. It led her to write, "When man is governed by God, the ever-present Mind who understands all things, man knows that with God all things are possible" (pg. 180).
With this feeling under one's belt, one can take the first step and know that that will make it clearer how to take the second and third steps as well. The undoable becomes doable. It's not right to live in despair and disorder. Rebuilding, reconstruction, and renewal are essential. And because they are essential, God gives everyone what they need to make this happen.