Not so simple when a plain reading of plain words seems to guarantee one outcome and life delivers another.
Not so simple when pain obliterates hope and tears blind my eyes to a future that’s anything other than dark.
But is the problem with God and His promises or me and my expectations?
Before my lifestorm I could have worked up a lovely devotional on God’s promises and given good reasons why we should not doubt them. But God’s promises were no longer devotional material; they were real-life issues. I knew I could not go that class and tell those who gathered there how God keeps his promises, but I could assure them I was learning that he does. Even as I questioned his promises because of the pain that wouldn’t go away, I knew I was learning that the problem is not with God’s promises but with our bringing twentieth-century expectations and personal wish-fulfillment to those promises. The problem lies with our expectations of what God should do and how he should do it when life hurts. I was learning that I had to quit just looking at the promises of God and look to the God of the promises.
Verdell Davis, Riches Stored In Secret Places
I’ve written before about how easy it is to put God in a Box.
So often I interact with Scripture based on false assumptions, wishful thinking and my own idea of how God should work in the world. I want a God I can understand or (if I’m honest!) manipulate or cajole into doing what makes me most satisfied and most comfortable. I pick and choose among the promises and tend to focus on the ones that seem to guarantee health, wealth and happiness and I gloss over the ones that plainly describe the painful process of being conformed to the likeness of Christ.
I cannot answer all the questions my heart can conjure up and I don’t think God will answer them for me this side of Heaven.
But God doesn’t lie.
His promises stand.
How and when He chooses to fulfill them is not for me to say.
I am learning to lean into His faithful love, trust His heart and live in the mysterious space between what I understand and what I find incomprehensible.
I don’t often pull the “you never know if today may be the last day for someone you love” card.
But I’m going to do it now.
People. Just stop.
Your need for a latte does not trump the necessity to stay away from potential sources of infection. Your need to socialize with friends because you “just can’t stand to sit inside one more minute” is not an excuse for ignoring requests from health care professionals to stay home.
Your careless and carefree attitude is putting others at risk.
It’s entirely possible that if or when you contract Covid19 it’s no more than a miserable two weeks. But it’s also entirely possible that the person you give it to might die.
Trust me, you don’t want to be the one who brought it home to your mama, your daddy, your spouse or your child.
There is nothing easy about watching someone you love suffer. It’s even harder to be forbidden from sitting next to his or her bedside, holding a hand, wiping a fevered forehead.
Dominic died almost six years ago. It is no easier on my heart this minute than it was then.
This is not a joke, not overblown, not a government conspiracy or a hoax perpetrated by whomever you think might do such a thing.
Do you love your family and friends?
REALLY love them?
If you do, thenSTAY HOME!
For those of you (like two of my children) who perform essential work during this crisis, thank you.
And may God place a hedgeof protection around you and those you love.
When my perfectly healthy, strong and gifted son was killed instantly in a motorcycle accident on April 12. 2014 my world fell apart. My heart shattered into a million pieces. And after three and a half years, I’ve yet to even FIND all of those pieces much less put them back together.
So what does a heart do when that happens?Because, try as I might, I cannot stop time.
Even THAT awful day only lasted 24 hours.
When the sun rose again, the pain was still there. And behind that pain and mixed with it was something else-disappointment, disaffection, distrust.
We’ve whitewashed everything about this scene: beatific Mary gazing serenely at a cleaned up baby cozy in a cleaned up manger towered over by Joseph and surrounded by adoring shepherds and freshly groomed, sweet smelling animals.
It was nothing like that.
Birth is pain and sweat and effort.
And messy. So, so messy.
I like to think more clearly about what that night was like. It helps my heart to know that even while God was being birthed as a man into the world He created, He didn’t hide the hard.
It’s been five plus years since Dominic ran ahead to Heaven.
And while I’ve grown stronger and better able to carry the load of grief, the missing never ends.
I cannot become accustomed to photos that don’t include one of my children. I can’t set aside the sense that someone is absent from the table. It still seems unreal and unnatural for there not to be presents under the tree with Dom’s name on them. It is absolutely impossible for me to tick off the current ages of my kids without a pause for the age Dominic should be, but isn’t.
Now missing Dominic on one side of life is bookended by missing my mama on the other.
Sure, it’s perfectly natural and orderly for our parents to leave this life before us.
But it isn’t painless.
As a matter of fact, it is very, very painful.
I miss the generational space between me and eternity. I miss Mama’s voice, her silly stories, her peculiar habits and stubborn nature. I miss seeing her in the chair that was her daily perch these past two years. I miss the way she piddled with her food always declaring, “I eat everything on my plate” when she knew good and well she didn’t.
Our circle is smaller this year.
When we gather for opening presents and enjoying the Christmas feast there will be two people absent.
My heart will always mark the space where Mama and Dominic SHOULD be.
Yesterday I stood next to my mama’s casket and met person after person who came to pay respects.
It was beautiful and awful all at the same time.
It was precious to hear the many ways Mama had brightened other people’s lives, extended hospitality, shared experiences and encouraged hearts.
It was awful to know she wouldn’t be doing that anymore. Her voice is silent, her smile is forever fixed into a not-really-like-her expression and her eyes closed.
I have been so busy that I really haven’t had time to mourn her yet. It’s coming.
Oh, how I know it’s coming.
But one thing I know now that I didn’t know when Dominic ran ahead to Heaven is this: Hope in Christ creates a safe space for all my questions, sadness and crying out.
God collects my tears. He does not disdain my sadness. He leans in and listens to my lament.
To have healthy fellowship with God we must be honest and realistic about our circumstances and our reactions to them. To have a healthy emotional, spiritual, and mental life, we must be honest with ourselves. One truth about our lives is that we are broken; we inevitably encounter our own suffering and that of others, and eventually we die. How does our Lord teach us to respond to this? He teaches us hope, and within that hope we use lament to speak to God of the painful delay of peace. All laments ultimately go to God, with whom we wrestle and rest.
Kelly M. Kapic, Embodied Hope
Peace is coming but it’s not here yet.
And it is perfectly OK to admit that, to mourn that, to take notice of the gap between the promise and the present.