Monday, February 1, 2010

A Vicarious Grief Observed

The conclusion is not, "So there is no God after all," but rather, "So this is what God is really like."
-C.S. Lewis
A Grief Observed
I know You bore our sorrows,
And I know You feel our pain,
And I know it would hurt any less
Even if it could be explained.
-Rich Mullins
"Hard to Get"

Then [Job's friends] sat on the ground with [Job] for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.
-Job 2:13

I've believed a lie for a long time-or at least a half truth. I'm not sure how to put the lie into words, but it essentially pertains to what it means to trust in God.

On January 2nd, a friend ours in Houston, TX lovingly put her six month-old son down for a nap. He never woke up. I cannot stop thinking about my friends and their terrible loss, and it has rattled me to the core of my being and faith.

This morning, my friend, Ross, unexpectedly lost his mother to an aneurysm. Barely two months ago, he lost his youngest brother (39, I believe) to a heart attack. A number of years ago, Ross lost his son.

This very afternoon, my boss, Shane, and his wife, Jana, abruptly left the office after hearing that their friend had just been crushed by a fallen tree trunk.

Then, there's Haiti; thousands upon thousands dead and wounded in a matter of mere minutes.

The odd thing is that while in some calamities God seems absent, in others, He is so painfully, conspicuous.

I met with Ross on Friday. We had spent a great deal of time talking about the problem of pain, with which I am really allowing myself to wrestle with for the first time.

This morning, in our company devotional, Shane spoke of his recently acquired desire to reconnect with friends from High School and his hopes to share Christ with them. I'm not yet sure if the man who died was one of those friends, but it seems like an odd thing to talk about a couple of hours before this terrible accident.

Our friends who lost their dear little baby, have close friends who also lost a baby, in the same way, a few months before. Neither family will grieve alone, and I believe that will be a source of comfort to both. But the question remains: why must either family grieve in the first place?

Months ago, my friend, Bowin, and his family sold all their possessions to become Missionaries/Water Purifiers in the Dominican Republic...which shares a border with Haiti. They suffered many discomforts and hardships, including his contracting Dengue Fever. Since the earthquake, Bowin has been serving in Haiti creating thousands of gallons of purified water every day. God clearly called and prepared Bowin "for such a time as this."

But the question remains: why is there "such a time as this" in the first place?

And yes, I know the academic, theological responses. But, I am rattled, and I am angry. I must have thought trusting in God meant something different from what it actually means. I must have been living with a lie.

If you asked me if I trust my wife, I would say yes. However, if my wife had the power to prevent any of the above tragedies from occurring, but stood by and allowed them to happen anyway, and then you asked me if I trust my wife, I would say, very emphatically, I absolutely do not.

I would no longer say things like, "I trust my wife with my life." "I trust her with my future." "I trust her with my finances." And all pious platitudes we say about God.

I'm starting to believe that I cannot trust God for anything other than what He has actually and unequivocally promised: saving me and making me more like Jesus Christ-and often imploring painful methods to do so. The quality of the promises is great, but not the quantity.

I've recently had the shock of realizing that there is no evil or calamity, of which the human mind can conceive, to which God says, on general principal, "No, that is too horrible, and I simply will not allow that to happen."

God, of course, does protect individuals specifically from specific calamities, but they are for His unknown reasons. But, I've suddenly woken up and realized that every horrible thing I hope and pray doesn't happen to me or my loved ones has happened to someone...and there is no promise that it won't happen to me or my loved ones.

How does one live after such a realization?

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