Applying Faithful Imagination to Life’s Hardest Problems
My friend Jake* had snot running down his face. The kind that comes with a good cry, or, in this case, a bad cry. Jake had been struggling with depression for a few years, and he was having a breakdown in front of his parents and his then-girlfriend, Anna. This particular bout of depression was especially dark, leading Jake to say some scary things—things that make loved ones worry about the future.
Jake’s snot kept running, mixing with his tears. Anna had been a force for good in Jake’s life, but she couldn’t always pull him back from the ledge; anyone who loves someone with depression knows the feeling. So, in that moment, she did what anyone would do: she reached over and spread Jake’s snot all over his face.
That’s right. In Jake’s deepest despair, Anna decided that what he really needed was to have his snot smeared from his lip to his eyebrows.
Unconventional, to say the least, but the mood immediately shifted. Jake burst out laughing. His family laughed, and Anna (I’m sure) breathed a deep sigh of relief. In that moment, Anna had made the perfect move. It wasn’t a cure for the deep-seated depression, but it was just the right thing, at just the right time. And it gave Jake the breath of air that he desperately needed. It made no sense in the moment, but, looking back through an informed lens, it makes all the sense in the world.
At The Colossian Forum, we would call that a moment of faithful imagination. It is our deeply held belief that the moments where we feel most helpless—moments of conflict in dealing with the deepest hurts and the hardest questions—are the moments where we most need the abiding power of the Holy Spirit to provide us with the tools to bring reconciliation. The tools to imagine new ways to be obedient, especially when it’s most difficult.
Faithful imagination asks the God of the universe to show up—right here and right now—to give us something we don’t have on our own: a way forward. We need to love our brothers and sisters while speaking the truth of the Bible; we need to comfort those who are hurting when we don’t have answers; we need to reflect light in darkness when we don’t have words; and we need to know that God is giving us the tools we need to do it all well.
But how? There is no easy answer—no silver bullet. Instead, there is the power of the Gospel to transform us into the kinds of people who can bring a new imagination into the most difficult problems. Jesus Christ lived on this earth, in human form, living a perfect life.
Life was no simpler then. And yet Christ did something for us that would change the course of history by submitting himself to be crucified for us. To die, to be buried, and to rise again to give us eternal life with him. We, as Christians, believe in that momentous act as the most important one in history.
We also believe that it means something today. It empowers us, through the Holy Spirit, to cultivate imaginative ways to navigate the most difficult problems we face. The power of the resurrection isn’t confined to one day 2,000 years ago, and it doesn’t start and stop on Sunday mornings. The power of the resurrection makes a difference today. Right here, right now.
The Colossian Forum’s mission is to provide some of the tools and practices that help to form us into the kinds of Christians who can bring Gospel-centered imagination to the most difficult problems—to form us into the kinds of souls who ask the Holy Spirit for just the right thing at just the right time. Even when that means an unexpected move to bring a loved one out of the deepest despair. It worked for Jake and Anna. As it turns out, they are now married and have two beautiful kids, adding plenty of runny noses to the family.
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*This story is true, but the names have been changed.