On our way to the airport, the cloud-covered Itapeti Mountain Range looked like an immense plain blanketed by virgin snow. English would say that the fog was thick as pea soup, and we questioned whether the planes would leave on time, such was the near future’s uncertain visibility. Sun ended up showing its bright face before we got to the airport and in few minutes the world around us was once again one we knew well. The flight would leave without delays or interruptions. But I kept thinking about the great cloud...

...of witnesses. People that surround us on all sides and testify to God’s faithfulness and omnipresence. When fog lifts, everything that was doubtful, fearful and uncertain – which covers the same scene we watch day by day in a constant, safe routine – becomes visible.

Recently I have discovered old friends from a distant past – and new friendships made due to a common link: life in Christ. As we connect the dots in the tracing of these lives, I observe three common characteristics:

1)      Deep down, we are alike, the same as always, common people that  breathe the same air and aspire to the same dreams of years ago;

2)      In that which is externally visible, we are unique, different, each of us with his or her own share of sui generis victory and pains different from any other. Nobody knows de trouble I’s seen... Or the glory I aspire!

3)      In this mélange of unity and singularity, we are one: “For in him we live and move and have our being.” Simultaneously, we are different members, with different gifts, ministries and workings – all part of the one unique and unified Body ( I Cor. 12:12-27; Eph. 4:1-16).

In such diversity, we have different life experiences and find ourselves in diverse stages of our pilgrimage – but there exists one certainty for each and all of us, interlinked by two aspects: a) As to who sustains us, God is faithful. b) As to finite imitators of a great God being sustained by Him, we live, obtain victories, suffer, or even die in apparent defeat – by faith.

I am moved by situations my sisters and brothers face today: irreplaceable loss, family problems (or the void of lack of family ties), finances and finiteness, serious disease that put their permanence on this earth at risk. We still do not have Paul’s fortitude to say, “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (Phil 1:23). However, all of us are part of this great cloud of witnesses that surround us all, testifying that “He is around me to guide... uphold... strengthen... renew...” What we really desire, far more than the foggy clouds we experience around us, is that the God of our life be exalted in our life or death (Phil 1:20). Always. Each time. In every circumstance.

Elizabeth Gomes

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