Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Every once in a while life throws you something that you were not expecting.
It could be something wonderful. Finding out you are expecting after years of trying. Watching your child graduate from college or get married. A new neighbor that becomes your best friend. All feels well with the world when such unexpected joy fills our lives.
However, sometimes our lives are full of other (not so happy) occasions. These are the painful moments that shock us deep into our bone. The loss of a child or a loved one unexpectedly. Losing your job in a layoff and wondering how you will care for your family. Watching your home be destroyed by a flood or fire. It hurts. You don't get it. It makes you angry.
Life is full of twists and turns. Good and bad --both all part of a journey. You never really know where you will end up. Sometimes it starts to feel like a ride you would rather not be on. Hurt and pain start to make us feel like the ride is broken. If we are all honest we have probably thought to ourselves, hey who is in charge here?
It becomes really hard to trust that God has a plan. I admit sometimes I don't trust it. I praise him on Sunday but by Monday I am already doubting. I'm not the first one either. Countless people before me have struggled to grasp and to understand. Faithful yet flawed, each with their own story. The Bible is full of people just like me. It goes all the way back to Adam and Eve. You know how it goes. God created the world. It was GOOD. But Adam & Eve still wanted more and they ate the apple. At it's core, the reason was they didn't trust God. They wanted more.
Humanity is kind of like that. I am like that. Yes you heard me. I am a Christian that admits I sometimes doubt God. I admit I would do some things different. I have myself have been hurt and I also have watched countless relatives, friends, and strangers struggle through terrible hardships. I have seen marriages break apart in divorce and families shattered to pieces. I have seen women bury their children in tiny little graves. I have watched friends battle illness and barely hang onto the lives they once had. I have watched countries go to war (sometimes with themselves) over greed or senseless pride.
Can you blame me? For wanting to end THAT.
I am reminded of the song Imagine by John Lennon. A world in bliss. People without religion or war induced suffering and where all people live together in harmony because they are the same. It seems a dream, so simple and yet so impossibly perfect.
I once had someone ask me WHY is there all of this suffering? Why divorce? Why pain? Why all the bad stuff. Talk about a loaded question. We sat atop a mountain, several of us after a sunset and wondered why our world is full of suffering.
You know what I said? I said sometimes life just SUCKS. That was my answer. Some people will tell you it is God's will, that this was supposed to happen. Some people will even say everything happens for a reason. Maybe they are right but you know what I am not about to go looking for that reason. It is out of my ability to understand.
Here is what I do know. God loved us and he thinks we are good. He loved us so much that he manifested that love in Jesus who lived and walked among us and died on the cross. Even after we rejected this love, we were still forgiven.
Stop and think about that. Jesus, God's son, died for us even though we doubted it all. We didn't trust. We didn't understand. Or maybe we even think we understand it so well we should write the book of rules too. Jesus was able to look past all of that. He looked past our flaws. He saw something good in us obviously or he wouldn't have died for us. He saw our souls as invaluable. Worth saving.
In the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp she writes about how our soul is like a bucket with little holes that leak and yearn to be filled. She writes,
"That that which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond. To Him. To the God whom we endlessly crave...But how? How do we choose to allow the holes to become seeing-through-to-God places? To more-God places?"
There are terrible unexplainable things in this world. There is a lot of hurt. I will never understand it. The more I try to have all the answers the less I actually understand. I am not in control. I don't get to write my own story. That is a hard thing to accept.
I think Jesus and God know that about us. We each have our own struggle to face. Each a journey that is different and unique. A battle in our heart and soul that happens every day. God doesn't want for us to hurt and to suffer. God created the world to be good and for us to be in communion together with one another--with Him.
It is for this reason that Jesus calls on us to be good neighbors to each other. To love one another. The Golden rule to love thy neighbor as one would love thyself.
Matthew 7:12 (NIV) Says,
12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
I'm not a scholar. I'm won't even say I get it all "right." I can't quote scripture perfectly and I am not a theology expert. But I do know that we are meant to lift one another up and love each other. Without love this world just feels so empty, and our souls like buckets start to empty and dry up.
Jesus loved us so much he died for us. It is God's love affair with our soul. A real love story. Despite not trusting, God still loves us. God is so forgiving and his love is so unconditional and pure that he constantly seeks to fill up our souls with grace. He offers this grace to all of us.
I'm not the first person to struggle to understand, to fully accept God and his plan. Me, I admit I would do things different. I think not enough Christians admit this. I'm not God though. I'm just me. Like most people my story is not yet finished.
I am like a book unwritten. Each day is a blank page and a new chapter awaits me. Dwelling on what happened in my past does not change anything and worrying about how my story ends doesn't help me focus on what is happening right now. The story of my life is beautiful, yet raw and full of of ink stains and imperfections. I will never understand or comprehend what my life is until it is finished.
That is my flaw--our flaw as humans-- the heart of why trusting God is not easy. To be well with God and fill our soul with his grace despite all the bad. It is not an easy thing.
Today I pray not to understand. I pray for trust. I pray to be content and to listen even in bad times. I seek to praise you God through all the good and the bad. There is suffering in this world but I know that you my God love all people. I pray to overcome suffering and to try and see things with wisdom and grace that only You can offer me. I pray I can love my neighbors. I pray that I will seek not to hurt others around me but instead offer love. God, your love affair is for all people no matter what their journey has been. Your love is for all of us--including me.