On the last day of a sabbatical I took this summer, I had a Zoom conference with my board and shared with them the themes I wanted to teach on in any Peregrine message spoken or written this fall. The themes are: Hope, Courage, Light, Peace, Joy and Unity.

They agreed and said, “Those are great. Go for it.” Then one man spoke up and said, “Craig, before we go to those themes, there is one more urgent one we have to be honest about. It’s Loss. We all have lost so much; it needs to be acknowledged in order for us to heal well.”

Oh, man, is he smart. And he’s right.

If we splatter superficial whitewash over our losses of this past half year, they will fester. If we pretend, we haven’t been affected, and even wounded, by what we are experiencing, we risk ongoing spiritual and emotional infection.

What have we lost?

  1. We have survived, so far, the worst global pandemic in a century. This hit home for me and my wife, Beryl, when she contracted what was diagnosed with the flu late February while traveling, then was hospitalized in Chicago for 11 days, including 5 in ICU.

She had severe pneumonia, atrial fibrillation and suffocating oxygen deprivation.

Back here in CO, I thought she just had the normal flu, until the cardiac doctor’s phone call informed me that she had a 20% chance of stroke.

Wait…what? Cardiac doctor?! Stroke?! What happened to the flu? She survived, thank God, but doctors here confirm she nearly died.

Some of you have lost a friend or loved one to COVID-19 in recent months. If so, I’m deeply sorry. I can’t imagine your loss and I grieve with you.

  1. We watched the greatest collapse of the economy and the largest spike in unemployment since the 1930’s. Perhaps you and your job are one of the casualties.

My son-in-law, Vince, in the hotel industry, was put on furlough for four months, before he unearthed a new job. My son, Conor, in the business travel industry, was just told his job had to be eliminated.

Certain industries may never be exactly the same again. I wonder about you…how is yours? Have you lost yours? Is it hanging by a thread? Do you complete your tasks, at home or at a workplace wondering if this will be the last day? That’s a loss.

  1. We are watching scenes of legitimate demonstration and protest, turn into indefensible destruction and violence. We witness occasions where police are being utterly demeaned, then turning on the public in rage-filled violence themselves. I wonder how I would react if I were them?

Downtown Minneapolis, Chicago, Denver, Seattle and Portland and 200 additional American cities are covered with graffiti, profanity, destroyed police precincts, and the blood of fellow American citizens.

We are losing something essential as a society.

  1. We are torn, or at least I hope we are, by the agony of a growing sisterhood of African-American mothers who yet again mourn the loss of their sonswhose deaths are caught on body cams of the officers who shot or suffocated them.

Yet, we see the utter courage and patience of police officers who risk their lives every day to keep our society civil and safe. They sit on assignment in their cars, hoping the person who walks up to the door, one who may need help, isn’t packing a pistol with the intent to kill. This is an enormous loss on all sides.

  1. We watch with heartfelt disbelief the shredding of any sense of national unity and civility, as our political parties and leaders tear into one another with the intent to destroy rather than build.The divisiveness and hatred seem like the worst our nation has experienced since the 1960’s. Or perhaps, the 1860’s.

Our loss can hardly be measured.

  1. The west coast and Rocky Mountain regions of our nation still battle months-long raging infernos that have become the largest in history. Millions of acres, thousands of structures and dozens of lives have been lost.The southern gulf coast has had so many hurricanes we ran out of English alphabet options and have turned to Greek letters. As Romans 8 says, “All of Creation is groaning!”

Thank goodness, we don’t have a presidential mail-in ballot controversy that threatens to dissolve into a constitutional crisis. Oh, wait. Never mind.

Well at least we are spared yet another gut-wrenching battle over a Supreme Court appointment. Oh, wait…never mind

What in the world is going on?!What’s going on is the most overwhelming and destructive convergence of attacks against our physical, emotional and mental health in our lifetimes. It is a horrific, perfect storm that assaults us— heart, soul, mind and strength.

This convergence has left us damaged, on every level of our being. Last spring 1 in 15 American men admitted to feeling depressed. Now it’s 1 in 3. And those are the ones who were courageous enough to admit it. Think the actual number is higher? You bet it is.

I have a lifetime pastor friend who has courageously confessed in public his battle with depression and exhaustion. He’s far from alone. 93% of Americans admit to feeling depleted.

At the very least, when I honestly look in the mirror, and when I look in the face of an honest friend, I’d say we are WEARY. Weary to the core.

We are experiencing multi-faceted assault on levels that our hearts and minds were not built to withstand. The unending news cycle of disasters, the intensity of threats we read about or face, continue to pile up. This is an indescribable loss.

Ultimately, I believe at its foundation, what we are encountering is a spiritual battle hidden beneath the surface and beyond our imagination. Our hope for healing can only be spiritual and beyond our limited human capacity.

If we can’t truthfully acknowledge the personal impact of some, if not all, of what we are living through, then we risk remaining weary, depleted, or angry, indefinitely.

In Peregrine’s weekly men’s teaching and discussion experience, called The Journey, we have chosen this theme: The Banner That Unites Us. It’s a call to Unity. Not unity behind some clearly dysfunctional political party. Not unity to some flawed candidate we are regularly disappointed with. Not unity to some antifa or Alt-right political movement.

For we who call ourselves Christ-followers, we are called to unity far above any of those. It’s unity under the Kingdom to which we are called: The Kingdom of Heaven.

You may think, Craig, that sounds good, but what does that mean, Kingdom of Heaven? Please read this blog again next week. And the week after that. Each week we will explore themes for encouragement, guidance and inspiration. Hope, Courage, Light, Peace, Joy, Unity.

Better yet! Click here to see the first message I gave this week. Take a quick look to see what it’s like. If you would like to join us, all you need to do is register right here. The cost is $30 for 10 teaching sessions. If finances are tight for you right now, that hurdle is removed. Men have given scholarships so you can join us. Just select the Scholarship option and you’re in.

We will claim the promise of 2 Chron. 7:14:

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

Next week, we’ll take the next step in a journey of healing and encouragement. We’ll look at the subjects of Grief and Hope. I truly hope you’ll join me, and over 100 men from across the country, through this blog or through the teaching videos.

Please, don’t stay isolated. We want you. Join us.